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The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) officially departed 5th Fleet and entered 6th Fleet's Area of Operations when the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) transited the Suez Canal and entered into the Mediterranean Sea recently.
The Bataan ARG, which had been conducting maritime security operations in 5th Fleet's Area of Operations, and the 22nd MEU, which served as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command, participated in several theater security cooperation engagements and exercises, including Bright Star 2009, 5th Fleet's largest multinational exercise, held every two years.
"The 5th Fleet Area of Operations is one of the most critical regions in the maritime security environment," said Capt. Paul McElroy, commanding officer of Bataan ARG. "The operations we conducted and the exercises we participated in were all geared towards strengthening our regional partnerships and improving security and stability within the region."
5th Fleet's Area of Responsibility encompasses 2.5 million square miles of water and includes the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The Bataan ARG is comprised of Amphibious Squadron 2, Bataan, the flagship for the ARG, amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15), Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Fleet Surgical Team 6, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU 4 and Beachmaster Unit 2.
The 22nd MEU, led by Col. Gareth Brandl, is a scalable, multipurpose force of more than 2,200 Marines and Sailors. It is composed of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its Command Element.