The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO) June 21.

While deployed to the region, the Essex ARG and 15th MEU will conduct maritime security operations, participate in theater security cooperation efforts and provide ready forces that help maintain conditions for security and promote regional stability.

The U.S. 5th Fleet AOO encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area, which includes the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The Essex ARG, commanded by Capt. Clinton A. Carroll, Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) THREE, is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).

The 15th MEU, commanded by Col. Vance L. Cryer, is comprised of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced); logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15 and a command element.

The Essex ARG and 15th MEU team will provide combatant commanders a versatile sea-based, expeditionary 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 the nation’s maritime strategy.

“The Sailors and Marines of the Essex ARG/15th MEU team bring a uniquely flexible, adaptable and responsive force to the region,” said Carroll. “The Essex ARG/15th MEU team is a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of military capability across a wide range of military operations.”

Maritime security operations hone security skills in a maritime environment and assist in the development of counterterrorism and security protocols of allied nations in the region. Security forms the foundation from which stability arises, resulting in global economic prosperity.

These operations are designed and implemented to disrupt violent extremists’ illegal activities such as hijacking, piracy, weapons smuggling and human trafficking.

As a fully integrated Marine Air-Ground Task Force, the 15th MEU, is capable of operating across a wide variety of environments and mission sets, from humanitarian assistance to full-scale combat operations with little advance warning.

“The distinct ability of amphibious forces to gain access to critical areas anywhere in the world with ground, air and logistics forces enable the Navy-Marine Corps team to shape actions across the range of military operations to resolve conflict, conduct humanitarian assistance or combat the enemy in remote, austere environments that would otherwise be inaccessible,” said Cryer.

While transiting through U.S. 7th Fleet AOO, Rushmore made a successful rescue of 65 Indonesian distressed mariners in the waters between the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi June 10. The rescued mariners were safely transferred to Indonesian authorities after remaining overnight and were being treated for injuries.