Daesh positions are now being hit from two different regions as AV-8B Harriers taking off from USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the Arabian Gulf joined strike aircraft operating from USS Harry S. Truman in the Mediterranean Sea June 16.
This marks the first naval aviation combat strike missions of Operation Inherent Resolve launched from Navy warships in two different operational theaters.
The Harriers are assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166, the aviation combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked in the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group.
“These missions from the flight decks of USS Boxer, like those from the USS Harry S. Truman, demonstrate the inherent flexibility of naval forces,” said Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “Today, U.S. naval forces are striking ISIL simultaneously from both the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf.”
Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group began combat sorties from the eastern Mediterranean Sea June 3, in support of OIR over Syria and Iraq. The CSG transited the Suez Canal June 2, after conducting operations in the 5th Fleet area of operations since December 2015. The strike group’s deployment was extended to support dismantling and rolling back the ISIL terrorist network from the 6th Fleet area of operations before it will return home to Norfolk.
The Boxer ARG arrived in U.S. 5th Fleet April 5. Consisting of more than 4,500 Sailors and Marines, the Boxer ARG/13th MEU is composed of its command ship, amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry.
In addition to naval aviation missions against ISIL in support of OIR, the Marines and Sailors of Boxer ARG team are supporting theater security cooperation efforts and conducting maritime security operations throughout 5th Fleet.
USS Harry S. Truman will soon be replaced by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower which entered the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations June 8.