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    15th MEU, America ARG returns to Southern California after seven-month deployment

    PACIFIC OCEAN – The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and America Amphibious Ready Group are slated to return home to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Yuma, and Naval Base San Diego in waves by Feb. 2 after completing a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Horn of Africa, Middle East and Mediterranean.

    The America ARG/15th MEU is a flexible, self-sustained crisis response force, capable of conducting operations from combat missions to humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The Navy-Marine Corps team exemplifies the dynamic capabilities of amphibious forces and Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, with air-borne and sea-based connectors to move people and supplies where and when needed.

    While deployed, the Battalion Landing Team and its supporting elements completed multiple sustainment exercises maintaining an inexhaustible state of readiness.

    In addition to internal sustainment training the MEU/ARG conducted unilateral and bilateral combat rehearsals and massive exercises in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility such as Alligator Dagger in Djibouti, Africa as well as Alligator Thunder and Iron Magic in the United Arab Emirates that tested the MEU/ARG’s grit, tactical knowledge and competence to meet 21st century challenges that may come their way. Embarked Marines and Sailors from the 15th MEU and Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade also deployed aboard French amphibious assault ship LHD Tonnerre (L9014), where they conducted maritime security operations within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to ensure regional stability, freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce.

    These exercises were designed to integrate and synchronize war fighting capabilities with multiple countries and across language barriers to ensure the Navy-Marine Corps team is postured and prepared to execute operations at sea, from the sea and ashore in austere environments.

    The outcome of these exercises proved the America ARG and 15th MEU is a self-sustained, self-contained task force capable of providing combatant commanders with a flexible force that can rapidly respond to contingencies and crisis in the region.

    "[These exercises were] an excellent opportunity to strengthen tactical proficiencies ranging from amphibious ship to shore operations, logistical sustainment from a sea base and ashore, and infantry tactics; everything we [did] increased knowledge and cooperation between militaries to be better prepared to address security concerns together,” said Lt. Col. James Stover, the Combat Logistics Battalion 15 commanding officer and landing force commander of troops aboard USS Pearl Harbor.

    The Marines and Sailors also conducted numerous smaller-scale military-to-military subject matter expert exchanges in India, Malaysia, Kuwait, Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Uganda.

    These exchanges were crucial to building and maintaining relationships with regional partners and allies to understand how partnering militaries can work better together to achieve mutual objectives related to maritime security, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and regional security and stability.

    Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), on its maiden deployment, also hosted the Dubai Air Show Reception including more than 300 distinguished visitors while MEU-ARG aviation assets were on display at the air show itself. Participation in the air show helped demonstrate how the various aircraft and equipment can be employed. Operationally, the use of similar assets by nations in the region facilitates interoperability, which can be exercised in theater cooperation events, such as exercises and training throughout the year.

    “The uniqueness of the events [for the airshow] was that the aircraft and vessel on display were a part of a deployed unit,” said Brig, Gen. Francis Donovan, commander, Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. “While there were static displays on the tarmac of the air show and at the port during the reception, the reality was the ARG-MEU could deliver those required assets and ordnance, or Marines and Sailors on target anywhere in the theater.”

    The America ARG and 15th MEU supported multiple operations in the Central Command area of operations to include multiple theater security operations that enabled the team to train by, with and through partner nations as well as contributed logistics and aviation support for Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR) in Iraq.

    Additionally, while in support of OIR, the MEU’s joint tactical air controllers (JTACs) and RQ-20 Pumas assisted U.S. and Coalition forces by providing intelligence and precision air and ground strikes against ISIS targets. The 15th MEU assisted Coalition Forces to conduct more than 300 missions and destroyed nearly 1,000 pieces of equipment or strongholds across the area of operations. AV-8B Harrier pilots flew more than 600 hours with more than 80 sorties with a 100% successful strike rate against terrorist targets.

    Combat Logistics Battalion 15 forward deployed a detachment to Iraq where they worked by, with and through partner forces in rebuilding several tactical assembly areas enabling the continued safeguarding and denial of safe havens to extremist organizations in Iraq.

    “The ARG/MEU’s presence in the Central Command area of responsibility helped finish off ISIS in Iraq, deterred aggressors, instilled confidence in our partner forces and supported strategic interests by contributing to regional security and stability,” said Col. Joseph Clearfield, 15th MEU commanding officer. “Our support to OIR occurred as we simultaneously conducted maritime security operations and theater security cooperation events. I don’t think there is a more capable or ready combat formation in the world than the Amphibious Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit.”

    The Marines and Sailors aboard USS San Diego (LPD 22) provided sea-based contingency alert support to national mission sets in U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility with Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel capabilities, casualty evacuation support, and conducted intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from the Mediterranean Sea. The steadfast and formidable presence of SDG and the 15th MEU in the Mediterranean has decisively advanced stability and security objectives across North Africa. The continued support to U.S. Africa Command sent a strong message the U.S. is a solid partner in the area of responsibility and has multiple varsity level teams able to bring violent extremists to justice.

    While in U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility, the MEU/ARG reacted as a ready-response and contingency force by providing support to the Arleigh-Burke guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) after its collision in the Straits of Malacca, one of the most heavily traversed and dangerous passages in the South China Sea. Upon notification, the crew of USS America immediately changed course and sailed as quickly as possible to her fellow Sailor’s aid. Leading the search efforts, which lasted more than 80 hours in a 2,100-square mile area, Marines and Sailors of America provided berthing for 155 Sailors, food, supplies, counseling services and medical assistance. The 15th MEU’s Force Reconnaissance Detachment assisted the ship in dive operations.

    The ARG/MEU’s presence around the world supported strategic interests by contributing to regional security and stability, and represented U.S. commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Mediterranean, Horn of Africa and Middle East regions. The blue-green team provided operational flexibility to the combatant commanders by providing a versatile contingency response force using sea, air, land and logistical assets. The versatility inherent to the amphibious force allowed for flexible and mission-tailored forces, while representing our nation’s strength, capability, and resolve to partners and allies and deterring potential adversaries.

    “We bring an incredible amount of flexibility to the fight,” Clearfield said. “Whether it be at sea, from the sea or ashore, our amphibious forces with embarked Marines are by far the nation’s most combat ready formation capable of conducting missions ranging from precision strike, counter-piracy, maritime security operations, and combat missions to humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions in the world’s most volatile regions.”

    I couldn’t be more proud of all of the Marines and Sailors for a phenomenal job during this epic deployment and I hope the Nation is too,” Clearfield added.



    Date Taken: 01.29.2018
    Date Posted: 01.30.2018 14:36
    Story ID: 263926
    Location: PACIFIC OCEAN

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