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Kearsarge ARG, 26th MEU Arrive To Begin Pakistan Relief

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100916-08

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Darius O. Jackson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet Public Affairs

USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors with Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked Marines of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) Sept. 16 to being support to the Pakistani humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts.

Entering 5th Fleet waters marked the completion of the group's trans-Atlantic crossing, which began Aug. 27 in Norfolk, Va. Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU began their regularly-scheduled deployment one month early to support those efforts.

Support of those efforts will be just one part of the Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU's mission in the 5th Fleet AOR. They will also serve as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command when the Peleliu ARG completes its deployment in early November.

"We are looking forward to doing our part to help the flood victims in Pakistan," said Capt. Larry Grippin, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4. "Our Sailors and Marines have carefully prepared to carry out this relief mission."

Marine Medium Tilt-rotor Squadron (VMM) 266 Reinforced (REIN), "Fighting Griffins," will use their MV-22 Ospreys to support the relief efforts. This tilt-rotor aircraft combines the vertical flight capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft.

"We will be providing aerial lift of supplies and personnel to help alleviate the suffering of the Pakistani people," said Marine Maj. Eric Keith, a "Fighting Griffins" pilot. "As for the deployment and our mission, everybody is pretty excited to get to our destination, knowing that the mission will make a difference for the people of Pakistan, is really uplifting."

Kearsarge ARG is comprised of PHIBRON 4, amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15) and embarked 26th MEU.

Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU will report directly to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5, which is responsible for all amphibious forces deployed to 5th Fleet.

Fifth Fleet's AOR encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water and includes the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.

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