Sailors and Marines aboard USS Makin Island (LHD 8) man the rails as they depart San Diego, Oct. 14. (U.S. Navy/PO1 Jason J. Perry)

SAN DIEGO - Nearly 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (MKIARG) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed Naval Station San Diego for a scheduled deployment, Oct. 14.

MKIARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45). During deployment they will operate with the embarked forces of the 11th MEU, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5, the "Blackjacks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Fleet Surgical Team 5 and Tactical Air Control Squadron 11.

While deployed, the MKIARG/11th MEU team will serve in U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation, providing maritime security operations, crisis response capability, theater security cooperation and forward naval presence.

"The ARG-MEU team has put in countless hours over many months of training together,” said Capt. Michael Crary, commander, PHIBRON 5. "We executed the range of missions we’ll be prepared to support while in theater, and I’m extremely proud of how far this team has come and how ready they are for this.”

The 11th MEU is commanded by Marine Corps Col. Clay Tipton and consists of a Command Element; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced); Ground Combat Element, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; and Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 11.

"Our Navy-Marine Corps team just completed a challenging and comprehensive six month pre-deployment training cycle,” said Tipton. “This team is at its highest level of readiness to swiftly and precisely accomplish whatever missions our commanders need accomplished.”

The Makin Island ARG/11th MEU provides senior U.S. military leadership and coalition partners with a flexible force which can rapidly respond to contingencies and crises within a region. With ships, aircraft, troops, and logistical equipment, the ARG/MEU is a self-contained and self-sustained task force capable of conducting everything from combat operations to providing humanitarian assistance.