USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) steams alongside USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in the Philippine Sea. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Kyle Carlstrom)

PHILIPPINE SEA - The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG), with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, began operations in support of the joint U.S. military exercise Valiant Shield 2016, Sept 15.

Valiant Shield is a biennial exercise held between the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force in an effort to establish seamless joint integration in the event of conflict, contingency, or disaster relief. Valiant Shield 2016 marks the sixth iteration of the exercise.

"Credible, ready forces help to preserve peace and prevent conflict," said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, commander, ESG 7, who commands the BHR ESG. "This extremely valuable exercise provides the opportunity for us to operate as a unified, joint force by combining the ESG's inherent U.S. Marine Corps-U.S. Navy integration with U.S. Air Force assets and naval air, surface, and subsurface units for a dynamic aggregate of U.S. military capability. Participating in this training increases our warfighting readiness to rapidly respond when and where needed."

During the exercise, participating units will practice complex maritime mission sets that include anti-submarine warfare, amphibious assaults, reconnaissance and intelligence surveillance, as well as defensive counter-air operations.

BHR ESG will execute its primary capability of launching Marines ashore to conduct assaults on simulated objectives, while also leveraging other assets to support the joint force.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) will be assigned to the ESG to increase the strike group's capabilities to conduct a range of surface, subsurface and air defense missions, to include naval gunfire support.

Other ESG units include flagship amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), Amphibious Squadron 11 (PHIBRON 11), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 31st MEU consists of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 31, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 (Reinforced).

For more on Valiant Shield, visit the DVIDS Valiant Shield feature page.