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News | April 24, 2023

Task Force 51/5 Conducts Joint Training with U.S. Army

By Capt. Joseph Leitner 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade

Earlier this week, Soldiers assigned to Task Force Spartan, U.S. Army Central Command’s Crisis Response Task Force, trained with Marines and Sailors assigned to Naval Amphibious Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade aboard Expeditionary Sea Base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) to better enable crisis response options and joint-service interoperability within United States Central Command.

"This week our combined arms CRTF consisting of aviation and infantry elements joined together with our partners in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps to conduct deck landing qualifications and marksmanship training,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark McCormack, Commanding General of Task Force Spartan. “This Joint Service training is vital to maintaining critical response capabilities in the CENTCOM Area of Operations for any potential employment and real-world crisis reaction. Task Force Spartan, the sailors of the USS Lewis B. Puller, and the Marines of MARCENT, are a lethal and ready force prepared to defend all national interests in the region."

Soldiers from Task Force Spartan operated aboard the Puller for eight days, culminating with a mock air assault originating from the ship. Not only did this training allow for pilots from Task Force Spartan’s aviation element to increase proficiency in landing and taking off from an underway U.S. Navy vessel, but the CRTF’s infantry element was afforded a unique opportunity to train and operate within a naval environment.

 “Here in CENTCOM it’s vital that our joint services stay proficient at operating together. Over the last year or so we’ve worked with our U.S. Army partners to achieve this and we’ve had some great results." U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Matthew S. Reid, Commanding General of TF 51/5

"This last week in particular their pilots, aircrew and infantry got to experience life and operations aboard an embarked Navy vessel, while our Sailors and Marines got to practice planning, logistics, and support to our Army brothers and sisters,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Matthew S. Reid, Commanding General of TF 51/5. "At the end of the day, this kind of training only gives us more flexibility in responding to crises, deterring external threats, and supporting our partners together in the region”.

This week’s events were not the first time TF 51/5 and Task Force Spartan collaborated on training together. Over the last several years, multiple training events of a similar size and scope have been conducted by the U.S. Army aboard the USS Puller.

Task Force Spartan is a unique, multi-component organization, made up of Active Army and National Guard units, and rounded out by U.S. Army Reserve support units. Through Operation Spartan Shield, Task Force Spartan maintains a U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen U.S. defense relationships and build partner capacity.

The Puller is forward - deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to extend U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s maritime reach. The Puller supports counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and crisis response operations.

During steady-state operations the Puller falls under tactical command of TF 51/5, a crisis response-capable headquarters that is led by a cadre of U.S. Marine Corps and Navy professionals. The Puller makes TF 51/5 unique in its ability to organically support amphibious operations within CENTCOM and is one of the few U.S. Navy vessels in the world to fall under tactical control of a U.S. Marine Corps general officer.