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Ships of an Expeditionary Strike Group

The Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) is a United States Navy concept introduced in the early 1990s, based on the Naval Expeditionary Task Force. The U.S. Navy fields 12 Expeditionary Strike Groups and 11 Carrier Strike Groups, in addition to surface action groups. ESGs allow US naval forces to provide highly movable and self-sustaining forces for missions in various parts of the globe. The Marine Corps and the Navy are conducting a series of experiments to explore the ESG and ESF concepts. As noted, the ESG concept combines the capabilities of surface action groups, submarines, and maritime patrol aircraft with those of Amphibious Ready Groups and Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) to provide greater combat capabilities to theater combatant commanders.[1] An Expeditionary Strike Force (ESF) integrates the CSG and ESG with the sea-basing functions provided by the Maritime Prepositioning Force (future) to provide an even more potent capability.


  • Expeditionary Strike Group 2 - In 1978, Amphibious Group 2 comprised Amphibious Squadron 2, Amphibious Squadron 4, Amphibious Squadron 6, and Amphibious Squadron 8, all at Norfolk, VA.[1] In 1984 it still comprised the same four squadrons, parenting a mix of LHAs, LKAs, LPHs, LSDs, and LSTs. The command also included USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) and USS Coronado (AGF-11). Commander, Amphibious Group 2 was disestablished December 31, 2006, and commissioned as Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, per CNO guidance regarding alignment of Expeditionary Strike Groups and Amphibious Groups. This culminated nearly a year of preparation to become an operational command ready to deploy to the Middle East. Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2 is an Echelon 4 command, previously reporting to Commander, U.S. Second Fleet. In 1978, USS Francis Marion (LPA-249), a Naval Reserve Force ship, was assigned to Amphibious Group 2.[2]
  • Expeditionary Strike Group 3
  • Amphibious Group 4 - USS Panamint (AGC-13), part of the Northern Attack Force, served as flagship of Rear Admiral Lawrence F. Reifsnider, Commander Amphibious Group 4, for the Battle of Okinawa in 1944. In a transfer of flags at San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 23 March 1954, Commander Amphibious Group 4 (COMPHIBGRU 4) shifted his flag to USS Adirondack (AGC-15). Commanded by Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey from November 1960 to October 1961. Active in the 1960s, seemingly up to 1968-69, in the Atlantic Fleet.
  • Expeditionary Strike Group Seven



The United States Navy has always been involved in developing different military concepts to improve the rapid deployment of naval power and troops from one point to another.[citation needed] One of these concepts is the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The ARG consists of a group of various ships known as an Amphibious Task Force (ATF) and a Landing Force (LF) which normally consists of United States Marines and, on occasion, could consist of United States Army troops. An ARG is composed of an Amphibious Assault Ship (LHA/LHD), an Amphibious transport dock (LPD) Ship, a Dock Landing Ship (LSD), and a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) which includes a Marine Infantry battalion landing team, AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, CH-53 Sea Stallion, CH-46 Sea Knight, AH-1 Sea Cobra and UH-1 Huey helicopters. The Navy had two to three ARGs deployed at a given time. Normally one of the ARGs can be found in Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean area, and the other two in the western Pacific Ocean area.[3]

Early 1990s - Present[]

File:Expeditionary Strike Group 3.jpg

Expeditionary Strike Group 3 Flotilla

In the early 1990s, the Navy introduced a new concept based on the ARG, the Naval Expeditionary Task Force or, as it is also known, the Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). The ESG is similar to the ARG except that with the ESG concept, the Navy would be able to deploy almost double the number of independent operational groups, from 19 to 38. In addition, the ESG includes surface warships and submarine escorts, similar to a Carrier Strike Group (archaiclly a carrier battle group). An ESG is composed of an Amphibious Assault Ship (LHA/LHD), a Dock Landing Ship (LSD), an Amphibious transport dock (LPD), a Marine expeditionary unit, AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, CH-53 E Super Stallion helicopters and CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters or, more recently, MV-22B tiltrotors. Cruisers, destroyers and attack submarines are deployed with either an Expeditionary Strike Group or a Carrier Strike Group.

As originally envisioned in the 1990s, the ESG concept allowed the Navy to field 12 Expeditionary Strike Groups and 12 Carrier Strike Groups, in addition to surface action groups centered around Iowa class battleships. Thus, the Navy and Marine Corps forces could launch Marines via landing craft and helicopters as warships and submarines struck inland targets with aircraft, missiles and shells. However, defense budget reductions in the mid-1990s, coupled with retirements of older aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships without one-for-one replacements, has reduced the original 12 x 12 ESG/CSG construct to fewer groups due to fewer ship hulls to support those said groups.[4]

Expeditionary Strike Groups[]

The following is a list of U.S. military ESGs:[5]

ESG units[]

  • USS Essex ESG (ESG-FDNF early 2003). The USS Essex (LHD-2) is the second ship in the all new Wasp class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships and was commissioned on October 17, 1992 in San Diego, California. The mission of the Essex is to conduct prompt, sustained combat operations at sea, as the centerpiece of the Navy's amphibious strategy, from the Sea.[7] Essex ESG is also known as ESG 7 and is led by the Commander, Task Force 76.
  • USS Peleliu (LHA-5) ESG (August 1, 2003). In September 1997 the USS Peleliu ARG took part in Fleet Battle Experiment - Bravo's "Silent Fury" phase along with the Constellation Battle Group. The Peleliu ARG was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1997 and participated in Exercise Eager Mace 98.[8]
  • USS Wasp ESG (February 2004). From June to December 1991 she was on deployment to the Mediterranean. From February to August 1993 she took part in Operation Restore Hope and Operation Continue Hope off Somalia. Wasp conducted a Mediterranean deployment from August 1995 to February 1996.[9]
  • USS Belleau Wood ESG (March 2004). USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) was the third ship of the Tarawa-class Amphibious Assault and Command ships. Her design incorporated the best features and capabilities of several amphibious assault ships currently in service. The ship had a well deck for deploying conventional and air cushioned landing craft and a flight deck for launching a variety of helicopters and Harrier jet aircraft. Belleau Wood was decommissioned on October 28, 2005 and was sunk as part of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 06 exercises on July 13, 2006.[10]

Marine Air-Ground Task Forces[]

The Marine-Air-Ground Task Forces, or MAGTF, are a combined component of air and amphibious ground forces of the United States Marine Corps. They consist of either the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), Brigade (MEB), or the smaller Units (MEU) that deploys either from the United States Navy's Expeditionary Strike Groups or Amphibious Ready Groups.

The MAGTF are composed of four basic elements:

  • Command Element (CE) - Serves as the headquarters for the entire unit and allows a single command to exercise control over all ground, aviation, and combat service support forces.
  • Ground Combat Element (GCE) - Provides the MAGTF with its main combat punch. Built around a Marine infantry battalion, the GCE is reinforced with tanks, artillery, amphibious vehicles, engineers, and reconnaissance assets.
  • Aviation Combat Element (ACE) - Consists of a composite medium helicopter squadron containing transport helicopters of various models and capabilities, attack helicopters and jets, air defense teams, and all necessary ground support assets.
  • Logistics Combat Element (LCE) - Providing the MAGTF with mission-essential support such as medical/dental assistance, motor transport, supply, equipment maintenance, and landing is the mission of the LCE.


  1. Norman Polmar, Ships and Aircraft, Eleventh Edition, 1978, 7.
  2. Norman Polmar, Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, Eleventh Edition, 1978, ISBN 0-87021-642-2, 9.
  3. "1995 Annual Defense Report". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  4. "Expeditionary Strike Group". Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  5. "Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESG) - Deployments". Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  6. — Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. 2008-01-18
  7. "Essex Expeditionary Strike Group". Retrieved 2007-05-26. 
  8. "Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group". Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  9. "Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group". Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  10. "Belleau Wood Expeditionary Strike Group". Retrieved 2007-05-16. 

External links[]

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