Wasp operated off Libya and San Antonio exercised with
Israeli forces. Later, Whidbey Island and San Antonio
operated in the Arabian Sea, with San Antonio providing
contingency alert off war-torn Yemen, and Whidbey
Island exercising with Omani forces.
With distributed units, the ARG/MEU commanders
were reporting to the Fifth and Sixth Fleets and working with U.S. Special Operations command all at once.
Answering to different chains of command was a challenge, but “we kind of shelved that and convinced the
deciders that we could do it from the Wasp no matter
where the Wasp was,” Simmons said.
“We were given the authority to do that. Our team
crafted what that meant so we were given OPCON
and TACON [tactical control] over all our forces no
matter where they were and we had to define what
TACON and OPCON were across COCOM boundaries.
We convinced the fleets and the COCOM commanders
associated with them that we had a model that was
workable. We did that for the first three months of the
deployment,” he said.
When Wasp operated off Libya, it was joined by
an Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer (DDG),
a “nonstandard” event, Ogden said. “Knowing the
gravity of what we were getting ourselves ready to do,
they believed that that was probably the most prudent
course of action and I couldn’t have been happier.”
Ogden assigned the roles of
anti-air warfare commander and
anti-submarine warfare com-
mander for the ARG to the DDG.
Even with no worries about
those threats, he said the abil-
ity of the DDG to take on those
enabled the ARG commander to
focus on the Libyan operation.
The DDGs USS The Sullivans and
USS Carney were assigned at various times.
“More importantly, that DDG
allowed me the ability to establish
maritime dominance rather rapidly
because I used them as a picket in
between where Wasp was operating
and the town of Sirte,” Odgen said.
The DDGs were put to a more
active use. A Marine scout sniper
platoon was put on a DDG “to visually observe because we weren’t
100 percent sure that they [ISIS]
weren’t getting resupplied via
maritime routes or that anybody was trying to flee via
maritime routes,” Ogden said. “We got permission
to operate the USS Carney all the way up to 5 nautical
miles off the shore. This was very beneficial because it
allowed us to collect [intelligence] on them and observe
them and have a better understanding of the maritime
domain and the battlespace.”
By putting Marines on DDGs, “we exponentially
increased what we could do,” Simmons said. “We cre-
ated essentially new ARGs with destroyers by using their
landing pads and putting boarding teams [on them].”
“Another innovation that we did was we shot
[5-inch] illumination rounds off of USS Carney,”
Ogden said. The rounds were fired over Sirte at night
“because we realized that at night was when they were
repositioning, refitting, re-ammo movement. When
we started firing illumination rounds over the city at
night, it immediately disrupted their ability operate in
the clandestine in the dark.”
Ogden said the 5-inch illumination rounds were the
first fired from a U.S. Navy ship in combat since the
1991 Gulf War. He also requested permission for the
DDGs to provide lethal fire but was not granted it.
The AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft and AH-1W
Super Cobra helicopter gunships of the MEU onboard
Wasp launched strikes against ISIS targets in a long
campaign that ended on Dec. 6. Also, on one occasion,
An AV-8B Harrier, from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), lands on the flight deck of the
amphibious assault ship USS Wasp Sept. 19. The 22nd MEU, embarked on Wasp, conducted pre-
cision air strikes in support of the Libyan Government of National Accord-aligned forces against
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria targets in Sirte, Libya, as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning.