By Capt. Kelton Cochran
U.S. Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) concluded two days of ship-to-shore training along the Norwegian coastline, May 15, 2021.
The training was conducted as a part of Ragnar Viking, a multinational exercise exhibiting high-end NATO cohesion, solidarity, and credibility in the Norwegian, North, and Baltic Seas.
The ARG/MEU team conducted two amphibious landings that provided sustainment training for the embarked Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF).
“Providing our Marines and Sailors the opportunity to conduct shore-based training is a necessity to maintain our operational readiness while deployed,” said Col. Eric D. Cloutier, commanding officer, 24th MEU. “The completion of these dynamic evolutions demonstrates our ability to operate throughout the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in conjunction with our Allies and partners.”
The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit have roughly 4,300 Sailors and Marines. The ARG-MEU is deployed to Sixth Fleet in support of regional NATO Allies and partners as well as U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.
The IWOARG consists of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17). Embarked detachments for the IWOARG include Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Four, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Six, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21, Naval Beach Group (NBG) Two, Beach Master Unit (BMU) Two, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) Two and Four, and Sailors from Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) Two.
The 24th MEU mission is to provide the United States with a forward-deployed, amphibious force-in-readiness capable of executing missions across the full spectrum of combat and military operations other than war and consists of four basic elements – a command element, a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/8, a logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 24, and an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 Reinforced.