INDIAN 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), Nov. 1, after departing the 5th Fleet AOR.
The ARG and MEU arrive following numerous exercises and operations in 5th Fleet, including support of Operation Inherent Resolve, bi-lateral training with French forces in Djibouti, and training with Jordanian Marines.
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 5, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 1, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 11, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21.
"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 Carroll. "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."
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.
"The 15th MEU arrives in 7th Fleet having trained and operated across a broad spectrum of missions and geographic locations during our time in the Middle East," said Cryer. "This MEU is more prepared than ever to respond to crises, engage with our partner nations and provide flexible responsive options to the fleet commander during our time in the Western Pacific."
The 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.