Navy launches aircraft from USS Kearsarge for mission against ISIL

151119-N-KW492-136 ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 19, 2015) An AV-8B Harrier assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 (Reinforced), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), launches from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) to conduct their first missions over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Kearsarge is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL; maritime security operations; and regional theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ryre Arciaga/Released)

ARABIAN GULF (WAVY) — Aircraft launched from the locally-based amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Thursday as part of a mission to drive ISIL out of Iraq and Syria, the U.S. Navy reports.

It’s the first missions over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) since Oct. 17, from USS Essex (LHD 2).

OIR is an effort between a coalition of nations that are working against the operations of ISIL in that region. As of Nov. 12, the coalition has conducted a total of 8,125 strikes against ISIL.

“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 MEU along with our coalition partners are here to degrade and destroy ISIL’s current operations under OIR,” Bennett said. “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.”

In addition to Naval Aviation missions against ISIL in support of OIR, the Marines and Sailors of the ARG-MEU team are deployed throughout the region conducting various missions including theater security cooperation and maritime security operations.

The Kearsarge ARG left from Norfolk in early October after several days of weather delays, and arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet Nov. 1.

Photos: Kearsarge ARG Deployment.

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