Mabus: Airstrikes Illustrate Unique Navy Capabilities

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Matte directs an F/A-18F Super Hornet as it prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf Sept. 22, 2014. U.S. Navy photo, Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Card

WASHINGTON – Recent military airstrikes against terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant demonstrate the unique capabilities of the U.S. Navy, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said at the Defense Writers’ Group breakfast Sept. 30.

The Navy and Marine Corps provide U.S. presence around the world, Mabus said. The USS George H.W. Bush carrier group was ready in the area, he added, when President Barack Obama gave the orders for strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria.

“We could move almost instantly when the president gave the order” to launch strikes, Mabus said.

And that capability can stay in the region as long as needed, he said. The USS Carl S. Vinson carrier group is steaming to relieve the Bush in U.S. Central Command’s area of operations shortly, he said.

“That’s what forward presence gives,” the secretary said. “We don’t take up anybody’s land, we can come from the sea and we can stay for a very, very long time,” he said.

The Navy continues to fly strikes and some intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions off the Bush, the secretary said. The Navy and Marine Corps team has flown roughly 25 percent of the missions over the region, with the Air Force taking the rest.

“Most of the [Navy and Marine Corps missions] were at the beginning because we were there, but as the campaign has gone on, I think the Air Force announced yesterday they have done about 75 percent,” Mabus said.

The Navy has spent roughly $100 million on operations against ISIL to date, the secretary said.

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