More than 4,500 Marines and sailors with the Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit set out to sea Friday en route to the Western Pacific and the Middle East.

The Boxer ARG/MEU team will spend about seven months deployed to the 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations. The blue-green team will serve as a crisis response force in those regions.

“The Boxer ARG, 13th MEU team has truly excelled in their preparation for deployment,” said Navy Capt. Keith Moore, commander of Amphibious Squadron One, in a news release. “The sailors and Marines of the ARG/MEU team are well trained and ready to deploy in support of all missions.”

The San Diego-based amphibious assault ship Boxer is accompanied by the landing ship dock Harpers Ferry and the amphibious transport dock New Orleans.

The sailors aboard those ships will operate with the 13th MEU's 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 13.

Col. Anthony Henderson, commanding officer of the 13th MEU, echoed Moore's statements in the release.

"Whether a humanitarian assistance mission or combat operations, we are ready," he said.

Several support units are also deployed with the ARG, including a detachment from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 "Wildcards." That detachment, which includes three MH-60S Knighthawks, can defend the amphibious task force, conduct search and rescue missions, provide logistics support and transport special operations forces.

Other support elements include Fleet Surgical Team 3, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Assault Craft Units 1 and 5, and Beachmaster Unit 1.

Matthew L. Schehl covers training and education, recruiting, West Coast Marines, MARSOC, and operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for Marine Corps Times. He can be reached at mschehl@marinecorpstimes.com.

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