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Essex Amphibious Ready Group and 15th MEU Depart US 5th Fleet

  • The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) transits the Arabian Gulf. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean P. Gallagher)
    The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) transits the Arabian Gulf. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean P. Gallagher)
  • A landing craft air cushion (LCAC) attached to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 enters the well deck of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23).  (Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Dickinson)
    A landing craft air cushion (LCAC) attached to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 enters the well deck of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23). (Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Dickinson)
  • Quartermaster 3rd Class Monica Christopher plots a course aboard the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47). (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Troy Milburn)
    Quartermaster 3rd Class Monica Christopher plots a course aboard the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47). (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Troy Milburn)
  • The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) transits in formation with the French Marine Nationale anti-aircraft frigate Frigate FS Cassard (D 614) during an interoperability exercise between the nations. (Photo by Mass Communication Speciali
    The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) transits in formation with the French Marine Nationale anti-aircraft frigate Frigate FS Cassard (D 614) during an interoperability exercise between the nations. (Photo by Mass Communication Speciali

INDIAN OCEAN — The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO) Nov. 1.

While on station in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOO, the ARG and MEU supported theater security cooperation efforts and provided a forward naval presence with crisis response, humanitarian assistance and combat capabilities. Additionally, MEU and ARG elements engaged in many operations and exercises, including bi-lateral training with the French military in Djibouti, and training with Jordanian marines. The ARG/MEU team also conducted more than a dozen subject matter expert exchanges with partner nations throughout the region.

Beginning in mid-August, AV-8B Harriers assigned to the MEU's aviation combat element launched from Essex's flight deck as part of the multinational coalition participating in Operation Inherent Resolve. The missions continued until mid-October when Essex began preparations to depart the theater.

The Essex ARG and 15th MEU deployed from San Diego, May 11 on a scheduled deployment.

The Essex ARG, commanded by Capt. Clint Carroll, includes the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), as well as various supporting elements from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 1, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 1, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 11 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21.

"During the Essex Amphibious Ready Group's time in the 5th Fleet area of operations, real-world issues and the resultant mission tasking drove the schedule," said Carroll. "The ARG's success in the region speaks to the inherent adaptability, versatility and mobility of the ARG-MEU construct and to the Sailors and Marines who routinely performed no-fail missions with eye-watering precision in one of the world's most unforgiving environments."

The 15th MEU, commanded by Col. Vance Cryer, is comprised of the aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 (Reinforced); the ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines; the logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion and a command element.

"While deployed to 5th Fleet, the MEU was employed throughout and beyond the theater, engaging and supporting regional partners, providing operational support to vital missions, and maintaining readiness and tactical proficiency," said Cryer. "The MEU showed flexibility and responsiveness operating across combatant command boundaries providing joint enabling force capabilities to the Fleet commanders, clearly demonstrating the value of forward-deployed amphibious forces for regional security."

With the 5th Fleet behind them, the nearly 4,500 Sailors and Marines of the Essex ARG and 15th MEU enters the U.S. 7th Fleet AOO to continue operations there before completing their scheduled seven-month deployment.

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