26th MEU Enters 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility

U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY -- The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to assume the duties from the Peleliu ARG, April 5.   The Kearsarge ARG is comprised of the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron Four, which assumes the role as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation exercises.

The 26th MEU deployed Mar. 7 from Camp Lejeune, N.C., and began their transit across the Atlantic, Mar. 11.  After scheduled port calls in Rota, Spain and Limassol, Cyprus, the MEU and PHIBRON transited through the Suez Canal, April 6.   “26th MEU is well prepared to assume the role as the U.S. Central Command theater reserve,” said Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer. “Through a pre-deployment training program that included disaster relief efforts in New York City after Hurricane Sandy, training in a variety of amphibious operations and raids, maritime interdiction operations and aviation operations, these Marines and Sailors have honed their skills and are ready to execute any mission tasked.”

The 26th MEU is a rapid-response, sea-based, Marine Air Ground Task Force with a variety of capabilities with the prime task of crisis response missions.  The MEU is made up of a ground combat element, aviation combat element and logistics combat element. 

Leading the three reinforcement elements is a command element, which fuses logistics, communications, administration, intelligence and operations along with public affairs, legal, religious and medical leadership. Comprised of approximately 250 Marines and sailors, the CE provides guidance and direction to the reinforcements during operations.   Battalion Landing Team 3/2 serves as the ground combat element and is comprised of approximately 1,300 Marines and Sailors built around an infantry battalion reinforced with amphibious assault vehicles, combat engineers, reconnaissance, and light-armored reconnaissance vehicles.

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 (Reinforced) is a composite aircraft squadron comprised of approximately 500 Marines and Sailors who fly, maintain, direct, defend and supply the squadron.  The core structure of the squadron is built around MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53E Super Stallions, UH-1N Hueys, AH-1W Super Cobras, AV-8B Harrier jets, all of which are embarked with the Kearsarge ARG. The MEU is also supported by KC-130 planes operating from bases ashore, capable of missions including troop transport and mid-air refueling.

Combat Logistics Battalion 26 is comprised of approximately 300 Marines and Sailors who provide combat support such as supply, maintenance, transportation, explosive ordnance disposal, military police, water production and distribution, engineering, medical and dental services, fuel storage and distribution and other services for the MEU in expeditionary environments, alleviating stress on often-fragile infrastructure of countries where the MEU could potentially operate.

“As an expeditionary crisis response force, we are prepared to execute missions across the full range of military operations with organic capabilities embarked on the three ships of the Kearsarge ARG. If required, this force is ready to respond today,” said St. Clair.   The Kearsarge ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50).

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