Expeditionary Strike Group

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Ships of an Expeditionary Strike Group

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 9 Expeditionary Strike Groups and 10 carrier strike groups, in addition to surface action groups. ESGs allow US naval forces to provide highly movable and self-sustaining forces for missions in various parts of the globe.


The ESG concept combines the capabilities of surface action groups, submarines, and maritime patrol aircraft with those of Amphibious Ready Groups and Marine Expeditionary Units (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 is the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The ARG consists of a group of various ships known as an Amphibious Task Force (ATF) and a Landing Force (LF) which normally consists 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 Amphibious transport dock (LPD) Ship, a Dock Landing Ship (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 can be found in Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean area, and the other two in the western Pacific Ocean area.[1]

Early 1990s - Present[edit]

Expeditionary Strike Group 3 Flotilla

In the early 1990s, the 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 Navy would be able to deploy almost double the number of independent operational groups, from 19 to 38.[according to whom?] In addition, the ESG includes surface warships and submarine escorts, similar to a carrier strike group (archaically a carrier battle group).

An ESG is composed of an Amphibious Assault Ship (LHA/LHD), a Dock Landing Ship (LSD), an Amphibious transport dock (LPD), a Marine expeditionary unit, AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters or, more recently, MV-22B tiltrotors. Cruisers, destroyers and attack submarines are deployed 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.[2]

Expeditionary Strike Groups[edit]

Current ESGs[edit]

The following is a list of U.S. military ESGs:[3]

Former ESG units[edit]

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

  • USS Peleliu (LHA-5) ESG (August 1, 2003). In September 1997 the USS Peleliu ARG took part in Fleet Battle Experiment - Bravo's "Silent Fury" phase along with the Constellation Battle Group. The Peleliu ARG was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1997 and participated in Exercise Eager Mace 98.[8]
  • USS Belleau Wood ESG (March 2004). USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) was the third ship of the Tarawa-class Amphibious Assault and Command ships. Her design incorporated the best features and capabilities of several amphibious assault ships currently in service. The ship had a well deck for deploying conventional and air cushioned landing craft and a flight deck for launching a variety of helicopters and Harrier jet aircraft. Belleau Wood was decommissioned on October 28, 2005 and was sunk as part of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 06 exercises on July 13, 2006.[10]

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), Brigade (MEB), or the smaller Units (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.


  1. ^ "Maritime Forces". 1995 Annual Defense Report. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  2. ^ "Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  3. ^ "Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESG) - Deployments". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  4. ^ www.navy.mil — Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. 2008-01-18
  5. ^ Norman Polmar, Ships and Aircraft, Eleventh Edition, 1978, 7.
  6. ^ Norman Polmar, Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, Eleventh Edition, 1978, ISBN 0-87021-642-2, 9.
  7. ^ "Essex Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2007-05-26. 
  8. ^ "Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  9. ^ "Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  10. ^ "Belleau Wood Expeditionary Strike Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 

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