In this file photo, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Paul Clark guides an MV-22 Osprey off the flight deck of USS America (LHA 6), during training in May. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Chad Swysgood)

SAN DIEGO - The America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed San Diego to begin their final certification exercise (CERTEX), May 31.

The ARG is currently entering the final portion of an extensive pre-deployment training period in preparation for the upcoming deployment.

CERTEX is the last in a series of training exercises, which included nearly three months of integrated training at sea, certifying the MEU/ARG team for deployment in support of fleet and combatant commanders across the full range of military operations.

"For the 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), CERTEX represents the culmination of over a year's worth of preparation to deploy as one cohesive Navy and Marine Corps force capable of doing what no other nation can" said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Burgi, operations officer, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3. "During CERTEX, the ARG/MEU team will demonstrate capabilities in amphibious, air, surface, subsurface and electromagnetic maneuver warfare that provide the ability to dominate the land, air and sea domains. Once complete, CERTEX will result in a certified deployable force of nearly 5,000 Sailors and Marines who have worked very hard to prepare for whatever mission the nation calls upon them to do. It has been a great pleasure to watch our ships go from intensive overhaul periods, through basic phase training and now begin the certification process to be fully ready to deploy."

CERTEX is a vital, qualifying evolution that will fully certify the America ARG and the 15th MEU as one cohesive ARG/MEU team.

Throughout the CERTEX training period Marines and Sailors react to scenarios within a six-hour window using the Marine Corps' Rapid Response Planning Process (R2P2), simulating real-world challenges and processes that will yield success during deployment.

"We are being graded on our ability to operate together as a MEU/ARG team in support of missions that defend our nation and our allies," said Lt. Col. Patrick Byrne, 15th MEU operations officer. "Conducting warfare and operating from the sea is complex, but it is a capability we together [MEU/ARG] provide to our nation," he added.

The rigorous pre-deployment training regimen ensures the MEU/ARG is ready for deployment. The ability for the Blue-Green team to cross wide expanses of ocean and remain off shore, striking an adversary from a place and time of choosing, enables the Landing Force Commander and ARG Commodore both maneuver space and a secure base for operations. It is the MEU's ability to operate in a decentralized manner on complex terrain, and in the information environment that leads to the operational and tactical synergy of the scalable force. Ultimately the MEU/ARG team provides reassurance for being a flexible, effective, and capable force.

More than 1,800 Sailors and 2,600 Marines are assigned to the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 15th MEU in preparation for deployment later this year.

The ARG and accompanying MEU is comprised of a team whose combined skill sets allow them to execute a wide variety of missions, to include, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, amphibious assaults, visit board search and seizure, maritime interdiction operations, noncombatant evacuation operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, and theater security operations.

The America ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), as well as the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52). America, San Diego and Pearl Harbor are homeported in San Diego and are part of U.S. Naval Surface Forces and U.S. 3rd Fleet. Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.