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Makin Island amphibious ready group arrives in Mideast

MANAMA, Bahrain — The Makin Island amphibious ready group with more than 4,000 Marines and sailors arrived in the Middle East on Friday.

The group is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility and is expected to relieve the Bataan group, now operating in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. 5th Fleet said in a news release. The Bataan group was extended 21 days in the Middle East last month, beyond its original departure date to ensure a continuous presence in the region.The Bataan group arrived in the region in March. In the early stages of the Islamic State’s advances in Iraq in June, some of the group’s assets were repositioned for strategic reasons.

Most recently, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Air Combat Element has been conducting dozens of surveillance and reconnaissance missions from the Bataan over Iraq, using its AV-8B Harrier aircraft, officials said.

As of Monday, the two ready groups had not yet conducted a turnover in the region, said officials.

The San Diego-based Makin Island amphibious ready group left home on July 25. It comprises the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock, the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The group brings with it a variety of aircraft: MV-22B Ospreys, AV-8B Harriers, CH-53E Super Stallions, AH-1Z Super Cobras and UH-1Y Hueys.

An amphibious ready group’s diversified assets give the U.S. military crisis-response capabilities for a wide range of situations, from disaster relief to combat. For this reason, the group is often referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife” of the joint forces.

The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush is also in the Persian Gulf, where it has been conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq.

simoes.hendrick@stripes.com

Twitter: @hendricksimoes

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