MCAS Cherry Point Harriers involved in fight against Islamic State
By DREW C. WILSON | The Sun Journal (Tribune News Service) | Published: August 13, 2016
Cherry Point N.C.-based Harriers are involved in strikes at so-called Islamic State positions in Libya, according to military officials.
Staff Sgt. Rebekka Heite, public affairs chief for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, said a detachment of Cherry Point AV-8B Harriers from Marine Fighter Squadron 542 are part of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (Reinforced), which is deployed as part of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
VMM-264, an MV-22 Osprey squadron, is based out of MCAS New River.
The Harriers are operating from the USS Wasp, an 844-foot amphibious ship somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea.
Harriers made multiple strikes in the last several days on positions near Sirte, Libya, according to military officials.
According to Robyn M. Mack, media relations representative with U.S. Africa Command, multiple strikes of enemy positions have taken place, including attacks on a heavy machine gun, three rocket launchers, three resupply trucks, a logistics truck, a T-72 tank, two military support vehicles, a T-55 tank, two pieces of heavy engineering equipment, an excavator and two pickup trucks with recoilless rifle mount.
The airstrikes are part of Operation Odyssey Lightning, which started Aug. 1, Mack said.
Images circulated by the Defense Department show Cherry Point-based Harriers being loaded with GBU-54 laser joint direct attach munition bombs on the deck of the Wasp and the planes taking off bound for targets.
According to Mack, the strikes are “at the request of and in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord.”
“The U.S. stands with the international community in supporting the GNA as it strives to restore stability and security to Libya,” said Mack.
According to Mack, the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) last deployed as an Amphibious Ready Group in 2004.
“Since then, the ship has conducted missions including the development of two air platforms, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, deployed in support of the Navy’s community outreach mission and participated in joint and international exercises,” Mack said.
This is the first time in 11 years that the ship has been deployed to undertake strikes against an enemy, she said.
“The U.S. military, under U.S. Africa Command, will provide support to GNA-aligned forces, to include key information about the fight in Sirte, and manned and unmanned airstrikes against ISIL-Libya targets inside Sirte,” said Mack. “We have a range of capabilities at various locations in the region that will allow us to carry out these airstrikes.”
Mack said that operational security prevented her from releasing more details.
“I can tell you that the operations were conducted with proper notification and coordination of our partner nations,” said Mack.
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