USS Makin Island (LHD 8), center, USS Comstock (LSD 45), left, and USS Somerset (LPD 25) operate in the Pacific Ocean, Oct. 25.(U.S. Navy/PO2 Dennis Grube)

PACIFIC OCEAN - The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations after concluding operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet, Oct. 29.

While in 7th Fleet, the Makin Island ARG/11th MEU will participate in bilateral training exercises and conduct operations throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific. The series of scheduled bilateral engagements is meant to strengthen interoperability with allies and partners in order to enhance regional security and stability.

“This team has trained together for several months, exercising the spectrum of our amphibious capabilities, in preparation for our time in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” said Capt. Mike Crary, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Five. “We’re looking forward to the opportunities we will have to work with our partners and allies here, as well as experience some of the rich culture the region has to offer.”

The ARG/MEU entered 7th Fleet days after completing training in Hawaii which allowed the Sailors and Marines to sustain skills developed during a comprehensive six-month pre-deployment training cycle, and included planning and execution of ship-to-shore operations, a company-sized helo-borne raid, simulated convoy operations, combat marksmanship and fire support operations.

“The training in Hawaii gave us a great opportunity to exercise moving Marines from ship to objective, said Col. Clay C. Tipton, commanding officer, 11th MEU. “That’s the power of this Navy/Marine Corps Team; we can put Marines ashore without the use of a secured base, seaport, or airfield.”

The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), the command ship for PHIBRON Five and the 11th MEU, as well as the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), which is embarking on its maiden deployment, and amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45). Embarked units, which extend the ARG’s capabilities, include the “Blackjacks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, Fleet Surgical Team 5, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11 and Assault Craft Unit 5.

The 11th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced); a combat logistics element, Combat Logistics Battalion 11; and a command element with a commanding officer who leads the entire MEU.

The 7th Fleet area of operations includes more than 48 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, running from the international dateline to the eastern coast of Africa, and from the Antarctic to the Kuril Islands, Northeast of Japan.

While in 7th Fleet, the Makin Island ARG and 11th MEU will be assigned to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.