SALINAS, Peru (NNS) -- Naval and Marine Corps Forces from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and the United States, and observers from Mexico conducted the first multinational amphibious assault in Salinas, Peru, July 4.
The assault is part of UNITAS 45-04 Amphibious Phase, which is hosted by Peru and sponsored by Commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command.
"The point of Unitas 2004 is to exercise the capability to work in a coalition environment," explained Lt. Col. Glenn Smith, commanding officer, Marine Forces Unitas.
The amphibious assault exercise offers a perfect example of the new Unitas. Two multinational battalions comprised of more than 900 Marines conducted the assault. The 1st battalion was commanded by Peruvian Lt. Cmdr. Gaetano Guevara and included platoons from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and observers from Mexico. The 2nd battalion was commanded by Lt. Col. Smith and included platoons from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and the United States.
The first wave of Marines and Peruvian Army and Navy special operations units arrived by sea and air to clear the beach from hidden explosives, while F/A-18 Hornet aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, operating from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and Peruvian Air Force A-37 provided close air support.
Then the Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs), that launched from USS Tortuga (LSD 46), arrived on shore to destroy enemy positions and provide fire support to the rest of the multinational force, which deployed aboard zodiacs from three Peruvian ships.
"This amphibious landing is a great demonstration of the capabilities we have developed by working together," said Rear Adm. Vinson Smith, commander, Task Force 138, the naval forces of the Americas. "This is not only the first multinational amphibious assault ever conducted in Latin America, but it is also the first joined exercise incorporating the Peruvian Army as opposition force, and the Peruvian Air Force supporting the assault with their strike power."
The assault set the stage for a broader four-day battle problem intended to demonstrate what the Marine Corps calls the "three block war." The first block is amphibious landing to move forces ashore and seize a beachhead, with the second block is aimed at securing the beachhead and moving additional forces and goods ashore to stabilize the local area. "Block three" marks a transition from aggressive operations to peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.
UNITAS amphibious phase involves 22 ships, 21 aircraft and more than 7,000 people conducting jungle, littoral operations and providing support. The exercise is designed to improve the ability of the forces to operate as a coalition with the focus on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance operations.
Since 1959 UNITAS has been instrumental in improving working relationships among U.S. and Latin American naval forces. Promoting friendship and understanding between participants and people, this year's exercise focuses on engaging nations to face their common threats and devise multilateral responses.
Ronald Reagan is currently participating in Summer Pulse '04 while transiting around South America to her new homeport of San Diego. Summer Pulse 2004 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups, demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe in five theaters with other U.S., allied and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy's first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan.
For more information about Summer Pulse '04, visit the CFFC Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm or visit the Summer Pulse '04 Navy NewsStand site at www.news.navy.mil/local/pulse04.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cusns.