AV-8B Harriers assigned to the “Greyhawks” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 (Reinforced), which launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the Essex Amphibious Ready Group’s flag ship, conducted strike missions in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) Aug. 17.
The Harriers executed strike missions to dismantle and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as part of the multinational coalition participating in OIR in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.
VMM-161 is the aviation combat element of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) currently embarked with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
“The Essex Amphibious Ready Group, with the embarked 15th MEU, brings a uniquely agile, flexible, adaptable set of capabilities to the region that spans the full range of military operations,” said Capt. Clint Carroll, Commander, Essex Amphibious Ready Group. “The ARG-MEU construct’s inherent adaptability allows for immediate tasking across a broad geographic area to be where it matters when it matters. This is yet another example of the Essex ARG’s and 15th MEU’s quiet, professional execution when called to action.”
In addition to supporting sorties in support of OIR, the MEU’s Marines and Sailors are deployed to several other locations throughout the 5th Fleet AOR executing sustainment training and engaging regional partners.
“The MEU’s ability to source combat sorties from Essex, while simultaneously supporting training and operations in four other countries on opposite sides of the theater, is a clear demonstration of the 15th MEU’s and Essex ARG’s ability to provide flexible, responsive options to the combatant commander and the coalition fighting ISIL,” said Col Vance L. Cryer, commanding officer, 15th MEU.
“This is a strong example of the value of forward deployed naval expeditionary forces. These aircraft would not be in a position to make a difference without the combined efforts of the Navy-Marine Corps team.”