More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (IWO ARG) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU) departed for deployment from Norfolk and Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 27.
The team got underway as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to support Maritime Security Operations, provide crisis response capability, increase theater security cooperation and provide forward naval presence in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.
The IWO JIMA ARG/24 MEU is comprised of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8, multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44); Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (BLT 1/2); Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 24.
In preparation for deployment, the IWO JIMA ARG/24 MEU underwent a six-month work up cycle that included successful completion of an Amphibious Squadron/Marine expeditionary unit integration (PMINT), a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) and a certification exercise (CERTEX).
“Due to around-the-clock training and an aggressive work up schedule, we have no doubt in our minds that we are ready and capable for the missions ahead,” said Commander PHIBRON 8, Capt. Mark H. Scovill.
The IWO ARG/24 MEU provides the combatant commander a versatile sea-based force that can be tailored to a variety of missions, including quick reaction crisis response options in maritime, littoral and inland environments in support of U.S. policy.
“We are extremely proud of the seamless integration of Sailors and Marines and their above-and-beyond performance for the certifications preparing the ship for deployment,” said Commanding Officer USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Capt. Grady T. Banister.
As the ARG/MEU team sails toward the eastern horizon, the blue-green unit focuses its sights on defending our Nation and prevailing in the face of adversity with strength, determination and dignity.
“My expectation for the ARG/MEU team during deployment is to work together like we trained to complete any and all missions,” said Deputy Commander PHIBRON 8, Capt. Arturo M. Garcia.
Naval Today Staff , March 29, 2012; Image: navy