Expeditionary strike group

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Ships of an Expeditionary Strike Group, circa early 2014

The expeditionary strike group (ESG) is a United States Navy concept introduced in the early 1990s, based on the Naval Expeditionary Task Force. The U.S. Navy fields nine expeditionary strike groups and ten carrier strike groups (CSGs), in addition to surface action groups. ESGs allow the U.S. to provide highly movable and self-sustaining naval forces for missions in various parts of the world.

The ESG concept combines the capabilities of surface action groups, submarines, and maritime patrol aircraft with those of amphibious ready groups (ARGs) and Marine expeditionary units (MEUs) (special operations capable) to provide greater combat capabilities to theater combatant commanders.[1] An expeditionary strike force (ESF) integrates the CSG and ESG with the sea-basing functions provided by the maritime prepositioning force (future) to provide an even more potent capability.


The United States Navy has always been involved in developing different military concepts to improve the rapid deployment of naval power and troops from one point to another.[citation needed] One of these concepts was the amphibious ready group (ARG). The ARG consisted of a group of various ships known as an Amphibious Task Force (ATF) and a Landing Force (LF), which normally consisted of United States Marines and, on occasion, could consist of United States Army troops.

An ARG is composed of an amphibious assault ship (LHA/LHD), an landing platform/dock (LPD), a Landing Ship, Dock (LSD) , and a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which includes a Marine Infantry battalion landing team, AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, CH-53 Sea Stallion, CH-46 Sea Knight, AH-1 Sea Cobra, and UH-1 Huey helicopters.

The Navy had two to three ARGs deployed at a given time. Normally one of the ARGs was in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf or Indian Ocean area, and the other two were in the western Pacific Ocean.[2]

Early 1990s – present[edit]

Expeditionary Strike Group 3 Flotilla

In the early 1990s, the U.S. Navy introduced a new concept based on the ARG, the naval expeditionary task force or, as it is also known, the expeditionary strike group (ESG). The ESG is similar to the ARG except that with the ESG concept, the U.S. Navy would be able to deploy almost double the number of independent operational groups, from 19 to 38.[dubious ][according to whom?] In addition, the ESG included surface warships and submarine escorts, similar to a carrier strike group (previously a carrier battle group).

An ESG is composed of an amphibious assault ship (Landing helicopter assault (LHA)/Landing helicopter dock (LHD)), a dock landing ship (LSD), an Landing Platform/Dock (LPD) , a Marine expeditionary unit, AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters or more recently, MV-22B tiltrotors, and other aircraft that comprise a USMC composite squadron. Cruisers, destroyers, and attack submarines may deploy with either an expeditionary strike group or a carrier strike group.

As originally envisioned in the 1990s, the ESG concept allowed the Navy to field 12 expeditionary strike groups and 12 carrier strike groups, in addition to surface action groups centered on Iowa class battleships. Thus, the Navy and Marine Corps forces could launch Marines via landing craft and helicopters as warships and submarines struck inland targets with aircraft, missiles and shells. However, defense budget reductions in the mid-1990s, coupled with retirements of older aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships without one-for-one replacements, has reduced the original 12 x 12 ESG/CSG construct to fewer groups due to fewer ship hulls to support those said groups.[3]

Expeditionary Strike Groups[edit]

Current ESGs[edit]

The following is a list of U.S. military ESGs:[4]

Former ESG units[edit]

This is a list of former ESGs and similarly themed predecessor organizations:

Named groups
(These were named for the Tarawa-class amphibious assault ships that lead them. All ships in this class have since been decommissioned)
Numbered groups
(Amphibuous Groups since redesignated as Expeditionary Strike Groups)

Marine Air-Ground Task Forces[edit]

The Marine-Air-Ground Task Forces, or MAGTF, are a combined component of air and amphibious ground forces of the United States Marine Corps. They consist of either the Marine Expeditionary Force(MEF), Marine Expeditionary Brigade(MEB), or the smaller Marine Expeditionary Unit(MEU) that deploys either from the United States Navy's Expeditionary Strike Groups or Amphibious ready groups.

The MAGTF are composed of four basic elements:

  • Command Element (CE) – Serves as the headquarters for the entire unit and allows a single command to exercise control over all ground, aviation, and combat service support forces.
  • Ground Combat Element (GCE) – Provides the MAGTF with its main combat punch. Built around a Marine infantry battalion, the GCE is reinforced with tanks, artillery, amphibious vehicles, engineers, and reconnaissance assets.
  • Aviation Combat Element (ACE) – Consists of a composite medium helicopter squadron containing transport helicopters of various models and capabilities, attack helicopters and jets, air defense teams, and all necessary ground support assets.
  • Logistics Combat Element (LCE) – Providing the MAGTF with mission-essential support such as medical/dental assistance, motor transport, supply, equipment maintenance, and landing is the mission of the LCE.

The Aviation Command Element now consists of VMM composite squadron. The CH-46 was retired from active service and replaced with the MV-22B aircraft.


  1. ^ Headquarters Marine Corps (2003). "Expeditionary Strike Group / Expeditionary Strike Force" (PDF). p. 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2003.
  2. ^ "Maritime Forces". 1995 Annual Defense Report. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  3. ^ "Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  4. ^ "Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESG) – Deployments". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  5. ^ "Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  6. ^ www.navy.mil Archived 2 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine – Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. 18 January 2008
  7. ^ "Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  8. ^ Burgess, Richard (February 2005). "Mini-Submarine Promises Dry Delivery for SEALS". Sea Power. Navy League of the United States. Archived from the original on 7 January 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  9. ^ Norman Polmar, Ships and Aircraft, Eleventh Edition, 1978, 7.
  10. ^ Norman Polmar, Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, Eleventh Edition, 1978, ISBN 0-87021-642-2, 9.
  11. ^ "Essex Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 26 May 2007.

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