PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) --
More than 4,500 Sailors and Marines with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) May 25, after departing San Diego May 11.
The ARG and MEU arrived following an amphibious sustainment training exercise in Hawaii with the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23), and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).
While in the Hawaii operating area, the Essex ARG and 15th MEU participated in Culebra Koa 2015, an amphibious force and joint seabasing exercise that introduced new technology to decrease reliance on infrastructure ashore.
The ARG and MEU also hosted flag and general officers from more than 20 nations during the inaugural Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS) aboard USS Essex for a day-long tour and amphibious raid demonstration.
The Navy and Marine Corps team also brings MV-22B Ospreys, AV-8B Harrier jets, landing craft air cushion vehicles, CH-53E Super Stallion and AH-1Z Viper helicopters, UH-1Y Venom helicopters, MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters and other assets.
"The Essex Amphibious Ready Group offers combatant commanders mobility of force and flexibility of mission that make the ARG-MEU team a critical asset no matter where or in what capacity these Sailors and Marines are called to serve," said Commodore Clint Carroll, commander of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group. "The force brings a wide range of capabilities to each area of operations from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to full-scale military operations, and everything in between."
Other ARG elements include Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, Fleet Surgical Team 1, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Assault Craft Unit 5 and Beach Master Unit 1.
"The 15th MEU brings a host of flexible, responsive options across the spectrum of military operations in support of the interagency and combatant commanders' objectives," said Marine Col. Vance L. Cryer, commanding officer, 15th MEU. "The distinct ability of amphibious forces to gain access to critical areas anywhere in the world with ground, air, and logistics forces enables the Navy-Marine Corps team to resolve conflicts, conduct humanitarian assistance, and if needed, combat the enemy in remote, austere environments."
The 15th MEU consists of the 15th MEU command element; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced); a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines; and a logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15.
The U.S. 7th Fleet AOR spans more than 48 million square miles from the Kurile Islands north of Japan to the Antarctic in the south and from the International Date Line to the 68th meridian east, which runs down the India-Pakistan border.
For more news from USS Essex (LHD 2), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd2/