The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived off the coast of Somalia as part of the Joint Forces Maritime Component Command for Joint Task Force – Quartz, December 21. JTF-Q is responsible for the repositioning of U.S. forces within East Africa through Operation Octave Quartz. The mission of OOQ is to relocate U.S. DOD forces in Somalia to other East Africa operating locations while maintaining pressure on violent extremists and supporting partner forces. The 15th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/4; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 15.
The Makin Island ARG, commanded by Amphibious Squadron Three, is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and amphibious transport dock ships USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Somerset (LPD 25), and will conduct maritime security operations with expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) for OOQ. The 15th MEU provides sea-based forces capable of executing overland combat operations, amphibious long range air-assaults, expeditionary strikes and joint aviation operations. The Makin Island ARG and 15th MEU, a naval integration force of nearly 5,000 Sailors and Marines, project expeditionary striking power in the maritime, littoral, and inland environment by conducting amphibious operations.
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced) is comprised of 11 detachments that are equipped with heavy and light helicopters, rotary wing attack and utility support helicopters, fixed wing 5th Generation Strike Fighter Aircraft, unmanned surveillance aircraft, low altitude air defense, expeditionary airfield equipment, and organizational and intermediate maintenance support capabilities. The 15th MEU provides sea-based forces capable of executing overland combat operations, amphibious long range air-assaults, expeditionary strikes and joint aviation operations.
Additional units embarked with the Makin Island ARG include Aviation units embarked include: Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 49, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Beach Master Unit 1, and Fleet Surgical Team 1 from San Diego and Assault Craft Unit 5 from Camp Pendleton, California.
Hershel “Woody” Williams began its inaugural deployment in July and has been operating in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility as part of the U.S. Africa command mission. The Hershel “Woody” Williams provides the U.S. a forward deployed presence in Africa as well as increased naval power through Navy and Marine Corps integrated operations, including Marine aviation and support to amphibious operations. The Makin Island ARG and Hershel “Woody” Williams are conducting operations in support of U.S. Naval Forces Africa. Navy and Marine Corps integration promotes maritime security and stability, projecting power through amphibious operations to ensuring dominance across the battle space from the open seas to the littoral.