On December 22, the United States Africa Command publicly announced the arrival of the USS Makin Island ARG/15th MEU off of the Somali Coast. Its mission was stated as helping to relocate U.S. DOD forces in Somalia to other East Africa locations while maintaining pressure on violent extremists and supporting partner forces.
Supporting the withdrawal of American troops
"The arrival of the ARG/MEU and its significant combat capability demonstrates our resolve to support our partners and protect our forces through this transition," said in a statement U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, JTF-Q commander.
'This is a great example of how the United States can rapidly aggregate combat power to respond to emerging issues. We will look to leverage this inherent flexibility of the U.S. military in support of our future engagements in East Africa."
A day later, on December 23, the U.S. Navy released a video of the USS Makin Island where U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters can be seen taking flight. The video embedded below is a sight to behold as the four F-35s all seem to be equipped with GPU-9/A gun pods and one jet even conducts live-fire training, shooting its gun pod while flying.
A premier crisis response force
The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and amphibious transport dock ships USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Somerset (LPD 25). It should further be noted that the 15th MEU also includes MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors, CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters, AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters, RQ-21 Blackjack drones, Navy MH-60 Seahawks, and UH-1Y Venom light utility helicopters.
"Our Navy and Marine Corps forces afloat off the coast of East Africa represents a premier crisis response force in the region," said JFMCC Commander U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Farrell Sullivan in a statement. We believe him!