Peleliu ARG and 15th MEU Hit the Halfway Mark  
Peleliu ARG and 15th MEU Hit the Halfway Mark 
U.S. FIFTH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY - Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group (PEL ARG) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) reached the halfway point of their deployment while operating as U.S. Central Command's theater reserve force in the Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

Since departing San Diego in May, PEL ARG and 15th MEU have completed multilateral military training, maritime security operations, close air support operations in Afghanistan, counter-piracy operations, and have elements currently conducting humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations in support of the government of Pakistan.

Prior to beginning their 5th Fleet deployment, amphibious assault ship and ARG command ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) participated in Exercise Crocodilo in Timor-Leste in the 7th Fleet AOR. The goal of that exercise was to enhance military training in a tropical environment and cross-train with the Timor-Leste Defense Forces and the International Security Forces from New Zealand and Australia.

Also while in the 7th Fleet AOR, amphibious transport dock ship USS Dubuque (LPD 8) conducted Marine Exercise 2010, a bi-lateral exercise promoting cooperation through community relations programs and military training with Indonesia.

Once in 5th Fleet, the PEL ARG and 15th MEU conducted maritime security operations and sustainment training while working with partner nations to improve relations and engage in valuable military to military training.

While elements of PEL ARG were engaged across the 5th Fleet AOR, the heaviest monsoons in recent history caused devastating floods throughout Pakistan. Peleliu and 15th MEU were mobilized in response to the government of Pakistan's urgent request for flood relief and were directed to move toward Pakistan. The ship, along with her embarked Sailors and Marines, arrived in the vicinity of Karachi Aug. 9. They remain there nearly two months later, continuing their support operations.

PEL ARG and 15th MEU provided 15 heavy and medium-lift helicopters and supplies to assist the people affected by the flooding. The combined efforts of the PEL ARG and 15th MEU have resulted in the rescue of more than 8,000 internally displaced persons and the transfer of nearly 4 million pounds of relief supplies and equipment.

Demonstrating the flexible nature of the ARG-MEU team, AV-8B Harriers assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced), embarked on Peleliu also flew close-air support missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as Peleliu was supporting Pakistan HADR efforts. Aircraft assigned to PEL ARG and 15th MEU have flown for more hours in the first half of deployment than they were scheduled to complete during the entire deployment, due in large part to the Pakistan HA/DR support operations.

While Peleliu operated in the vicinity of Pakistan, Dubuque departed to support Combined Maritime Forces' counter-piracy mission under the command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 and responded to distress calls from M/V Magellan Star, after it was hijacked by suspected pirates Sept. 8. Dubuque’s embarked Maritime Raid Force of the 15th MEU boarded the hijacked ship the next day, rescued the 11 crew members and took custody of the suspected pirates without firing a shot.

As the theater reserve force, the ships of PEL ARG and the embarked 15th MEU have flexed their unique capabilities to conduct simultaneous combat operations and humanitarian relief in multiple and far-reached parts of the AOR. The deployment has so far exemplified what the amphibious Navy and Marine Air Ground Task Force team can accomplish working together.

The PEL ARG and 15th MEU are executing a regularly scheduled deployment to the region in support of ongoing maritime security operations, and serve as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command. The team reports directly to Expeditionary Strike Group 5, which is responsible for all amphibious forces deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet, and oversees the planning and execution of contingency response missions and maritime HA/DR operations.

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