Arta Beach, Djibouti — A new U.S. strategy of sending the Navy's most powerful weapons and sophisticated surveillance ships on joint operations with Marine combat units was successful in an anti-smuggling operation in Iraq and could help the war against terrorism, military officials told The Associated Press.
The change in tactics and training for U.S. Navy ships and Marines forces, which have long worked in tandem but not as a combined unit in the world's hotspots, come as part of a revamping of U.S. security services after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In the Iraq operation, the Marines went ashore on the al-Arab peninsula and searched for smugglers' hideouts as crews on Navy ships exchanged intelligence with the Marines on the ground, resulting in both teams capturing smugglers at sea and on land, said Col. Michael Regner, commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Reconnaissance teams on shore took pictures of suspects thought to be smuggling oil, copper, livestock and people and passed the information to ships, Regner said. Several ships were captured and the smugglers put on trial.
The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit is part of the first-ever Expeditionary Strike Group, which combines the three ships that carry the Marines with a cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate and a submarine to create a flexible force that can act independently. ESG-1 set sail on Aug. 22 and has been trying out new tactics.
In the past, the Marines only traveled with the three troop carriers and were known as an Amphibious Ready Group.
"The Amphibious Ready Group did not provide the lethality you need to be effective in the global war on terror," Regner said.