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Security Cooperation MAGTF Embarks USS Wasp

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS091007-16
Release Date: 10/7/2009 8:32:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amie Gonzales, USS Wasp Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The Security Cooperation Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SCMAGTF) embarked the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) Oct. 5 for a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. Naval Southern Command area of focus as part of Southern Partnership Station 2009 (SPS).

SCMAGTF is made up of Marines from Marine Heavy Helicopter (HMH) Squadron-461, based out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., Fox Company 2nd Battalion 9th Marines, 8th Communication Battalion, 8th Engineering Support Battalion and Fly-in Dental Echelon from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"It's important that we get back to our amphibious roots," said Lt. Col. Sean M. Salene, commanding officer of HMH-461. "It's [SCMAGTF] the first of its kind stood up on the East Coast specifically for this mission. We will take the lessons learned and share them with those coming up the pipeline."

As part of their mission, the more than 300 SCMAGTF Marines will participate in multiple humanitarian civic assistance efforts and military-to-military engagements with U.S. partner nations, including delivering Project Handclasp pallets to needed areas.

Salene also noted his Marines are ready and trained to provide humanitarian assistance in the event of a natural disaster. They brought on extra supplies and equipment in case such an event should happen during the deployment.

"We're very pleased to have the SCMAGTF on board Wasp, and I'm certain that their presence will only serve to improve our mission and readiness," said Wasp Commanding Officer Capt. Lowell D. Crow. "Further, their expertise – specifically in assisting partner nations – will provide us a better opportunity to further build upon the positive international reputation that the United States Navy already has."

According to a Marine Corps Times article SCMAGTF units will be considered "eyes forward" for the U.S. military, assisting partner nations with military training and civil-military operations, according to a briefing document explaining the plan. They will be made up of ground, logistics and aviation combat elements, and will resemble a Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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