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U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Randall W. Peck, right, the prospective commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, visit 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st MARDIV, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 9, 2023. The Marines and Sailors of ESG 3 and 1st MARDIV work together on a regular basis, and leaders from both commands met to further develop the Navy-Marine Corps relationship between the two units for future operations.

Photo by Sgt. Jailine L. AliceaSantiago

Navy leaders visit Blue Diamond Marines

19 May 2023 | Capt. Joseph DiPietro The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Randall Peck, the prospective commander for Expeditionary Strike Group 3, ESG 3 Command Master Chief Jasen Williams, and officers with the Senior Amphibious Warfare Officer Course visited Marines with the 1st Marine Division, May 9, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to further develop the Navy-Marine Corps relationship and understand new Marine Corps capabilities.

ESG 3 is one of the primary naval teammates of 1st MARDIV, operating and maintaining amphibious ships and supporting assets that allow Blue Diamond Marines to seize and hold key maritime terrain across the Pacific Ocean. The amphibious ships from ESG 3 also provide the Marine Corps and the nation with pre-positioned crisis response forces able to support operations from humanitarian assistance to security missions. The partnership of ESG 3 and 1st MARDIV is critical to the stability of the region and to the safety of the country’s Indo-Pacific allies and partners.

“Success with our sister service starts with communicating early on, so it is not ‘us versus them,’ but just simply ‘us’ as a Navy-Marine Corps team,” offered Williams. “Our Marine brothers and sisters are always so professional, and I love that we are a family.”

During a tour of division assets and personnel, Peck travelled with the commanding general of 1st MARDIV, Maj. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, to various units across the division. One of those units, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, is responsible for operating and maintaining the Amphibious Combat Vehicle and works closely with the amphibious ships under ESG 3. Senior naval officers attending SAWOC also visited the Marines to gain insight on new platforms and capabilities including the ACV, the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, and the emerging Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System.

 “There's nobody on the planet that does amphibious operations anywhere close to the level the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps does.” Gen. David H. Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps

“We are in the fourth week of our site visits, and I am really excited to learn more capabilities of the blue-green team aboard our ships,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Timothy Carter, a surface warfare officer with SAWOC, who previously served alongside the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2). “I love being able to see the combat force we bring to shore and to see the transitions to new capabilities like the Osprey, the ACV, and F-35s. It means a lot to see Marines at sea with the Navy and how proud they are of their job and equipment.”

Naval integration and the joint Navy-Marine Corps team are not new concepts, however, and 1st MARDIV continues to emphasize naval warfighting and the ability for Marines to support both crisis response operations and major naval campaigns. Blue Diamond units – and the rest of the Marine Corps – are more frequently integrating with amphibious ships for training to better replicate expeditionary advanced base operations and to rehearse employment aboard not only traditional amphibious platforms but also non-traditional platforms like destroyers, cruisers, and littoral combat ships. Greater integration of Marine Corps and naval strike assets, along with security forces from the division’s infantry units, will lead to a more prepared force when crises occur in littoral environments.

“We need to make sure we have all the advantages possible and being able to operate from the sea, with everything that we bring on amphibious ships, we can pick and choose where to operate day and night,” said Gen. David H. Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, during a recent congressional session. “There's nobody on the planet that does amphibious operations anywhere close to the level the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps does.”

In addition to providing battalion landing teams to the Pacific MEUs, 1st MARDIV integrates regularly with ESG 3 during Exercise Steel Knight, an annual naval warfighting event used to train division leadership and to certify the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin team for the next iteration of support. ESG 3’s current commander, Rear Adm. James Kirk, provided a great deal of leadership and experience to last year’s Steel Knight and maintained a strong relationship with the Blue Diamond. The ESG 3-1st MARDIV relationship, along with the further integration with the 3rd and 7th Fleets, will be crucial to future support to crisis or contingency operations in the Indo-Pacific.