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Deputy Commander, U.S. Navy Central Forces Command, Visits Kearsarge Strike Group

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070923-01
Release Date: 9/23/2007 11:13:00 AM

From Kearsarge Strike Group Amphibious Squadron 8 Public Affairs

USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Deputy Commander, U.S. Navy Central Forces Command (NAVCENT), visited Sailors and Marines of the Kearsarge Strike Group Sept. 7-8.

Read Adm. Scott Swift and members of his staff arrived aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Kearsarge Strike Group flagship, via helicopter where they were greeted by Kearsarge Strike Group leadership.

The visit began with Swift and Master Chief Cryptological Technician (Technical) Dale Arnold, NAVCENT’s acting force master chief, meeting with senior enlisted Navy and Marine Corps leaders to discuss the importance of situational awareness in accomplishing the NAVCENT mission.

“One of the most important practices we want to teach these young Sailors and Marines, especially concerning force protection, is to keep their heads on a swivel and make sure they are always aware of their surroundings,” said Swift. “What we also want to do is let them know that each of their contributions adds up to accomplishing the mission.”

Swift also met with Kearsarge’s wardroom to discuss their role in the NAVCENT area of responsibility (AOR) during deployment.

“I’d like to welcome Kearsarge to the [NAVCENT] AOR,” said Swift. “One of the greatest things about the Navy and Marine Corps team is flexibility, and we’re excited to see what an amphib brings to the plate.”

The Kearsarge visit was the first visit to an amphibious warship in Swift’s career. He said it brought to light the vast capabilities of the strike group in supporting theater goals and missions. He also noted these capabilities are greatly needed in the AOR, and that amphibious ships would be used more in the future.

On Sept. 8, Swift spent time aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15) and the dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44, observing well deck and flight deck operations, including launching and recovering aircraft, landing craft units, and amphibious assault vehicles.

“Flexibility is key in any kind of fight…and I would say that’s what the Kearsarge Strike Group brings to the table," noted Swift while onboard Ponce. He said the ability of Ponce to swiftly launch and recover small boats was key to conducting the mission of interaction patrols.

Interaction Patrols (IPATS) are an element of Maritime Security Operations (MSO) which help generate support and awareness amongst commercial vessels sailing in the region of the coalition’s efforts to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment.

“We want to back up, and bolster other countries, Swift said. He also explained that the Navy’s overall plan is to give regional governments the tools they need to maintain their own security and keep waterways free of criminal activity.

Kearsarge Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of MSO. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists’ use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

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