USS Kearsarge Deploys Harriers Against ISIL

The United States Naval Aviation rejoined the fight against ISIL November 19 when AV-8B Harriers launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).

The Harriers from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM)162 conducted their first missions over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

USS Essex supported the last Naval Aviation OIR missions October 17.

Lieutenant Colonel Brian T. Koch, commanding officer of VMM-162, said:

We will continue to work with our coalition partners to drive ISIL out of Iraq and Syria,” said Lt. Col. Brian T. Koch, commanding officer of VMM-162(REIN). “We operate around the clock to defend America, and to keep our families at home safe.

Capt. Augustus P. Bennett, commander, Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), said the Sailors and Marines under his charge are prepared for what lies ahead:

The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit along with our coalition partners are here to degrade and destroy ISIL’s current operations under OIR. The combined ARG-MEU team is an expeditionary Navy/Marine Corps force that stands ready and has been trained for these types of operations. We’re here to assure our allies, deter any adversaries and provide a persistent U.S. presence here in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

The Kearsarge ARG arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet November 1. The area of operations of the U.S. 5th Fleet encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of the Middle East’s maritime reaches and includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.

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Image: US Navy