Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Barry Swanson recovers a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft on the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), March 14 in the East China Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jerome D. Johnson)

OKINAWA, Japan - The Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) arrived in White Beach, Okinawa, March 21, after completing a 10-day certification exercise (CERTEX) with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in the East China Sea.

CERTEX is a comprehensive, complex training evolution that combines the Navy and Marine Corps maritime and sea-to-shore capabilities. Although routinely conducted to maintain readiness, this CERTEX introduced a unique training event.

The ARG conducted an inaugural joint recovery force exercise between Army Special Forces (SOF), U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy personnel.

"Operating effectively as a cohesive unit is imperative to conducting joint amphibious operations," said Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 (PHIBRON), Capt. Cathal S. O'Connor. "Coordinating across multiple services in an amphibious warfare environment requires skill, attention to detail and ability to multi-task in a continually evolving environment."

With an ever-increasing focus on joint operations, the scenario allowed the different services inter-operability training in the event of a joint maritime operation.

"We train for every possible scenario," said an SOF team member. "It's great to get the opportunity to conduct events like this with the Navy and Marine Corps. It allows us to refine our abilities as a joint war-fighting organization."

The ARG was also evaluated on many different scenarios testing their ability to operate in several mission critical areas, ranging from maritime boarding and combat flight operations to amphibious landings, raids and civilian evacuation drills.

"The ARG and MEU were very successful this CERTEX," said O'Connor. "We continually learn and refine our methods during such training, and it allows the Navy and Marine Corps to maintain a high state of readiness in the event we are called upon to conduct a real world mission."

According to Bonhomme Richard's Commanding Officer, Capt. Daniel Dusek, the success of CERTEX is the result of hard work and dedication from all those involved.

"Every member of the MEU/ARG team is a key player," said Dusek. "From junior Sailors and Marines to senior officers, everyone has a part to play."

Bonhomme Richard ARG is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and amphibious dock landing ships USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46).