On June 23rd, the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) entered the US 5th Fleet area of responsibility – the Persian Gulf.
The ARG consists of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha, Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry, the USNI Fleet Tracker showed.
“The BOXARG/11th MEU team is a flexible, adaptable and persistent force.” said Capt. Brad Arthur, commander, Amphibious Squadron (FIVE) 5. “All of our training and our transit to 5th Fleet have made us prepared to respond to any crises across the range of military operations.”
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 3/5; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 11.
“Our training and preparation to enter the 5th Fleet area of operations has all been designed to ensure we can be ready where it matters, when it matters,” said Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, 11th MEU commander. “We’re a Navy and Marine Corps team fully capable of conducting operations across a full spectrum of conventional, unconventional and hybrid warfare.”
Upon arrival, the Boxer ARG relieved the Kearsarge ARG and 22nd MEU.
The Boxer ARG is to join the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which arrived in the Persian Gulf, to deter mostly imaginary and unsubstantiated Iranian aggression.
With the arrival of the USS Boxer and Co., the US Navy has 28,000 personnel deployed in the Middle East, more than anywhere else in the world.
In comparison, the Navy currently has 24,000 personnel deployed to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, according to data reviewed by USNI.
This deployment came just days after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order, introducing sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“Today’s action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of U.S. drones,” Trump said, according to the White House transcript. “Sanctions imposed through the executive order that I’m about to sign will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader’s Office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support. The assets of Ayatollah Khamenei and his office will not be spared from the sanctions.”
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy commanders were subject to sanctions, following a US Treasury Department announcement.
In response to the sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the Trump administration was “afflicted by mental retardation” and that the sanctions against Ayatollah Khamenei were “idiotic.”
Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on June 26th in Moscow.
Lavrov said that he discussed with the UAE diplomat the possibility to instate dialogue between the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf and Iran.
“My colleague and friend and I mentioned that we discussed the Persian Gulf situation today. It seems to me that our idea to create a dialogue between the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and Iran could serve as an alternative to the disastrous path the warmongers are trying to push the region down. Dialogue always helps to resolve differences in a peaceful way; at least it provides a strong opportunity.”
On his part, the UAE foreign minister said that the country couldn’t accuse Iran of attacking the tankers in the Gulf of Oman, since there was no conclusive evidence.
“We cannot accuse any nation at the moment because we don’t have indisputable proof,” he said.
“If other nations have more concrete information, I am sure the international community will gladly hear them out. But we have to be very serious and careful. It has to be reliable, scientifically confirmed information which would convince the international community.”
On June 25th, in a trilateral meeting Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Israeli National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russia once again said that Iran was a close ally and that dialogue needs to be instated, since offensive actions and harsh rhetoric would lead to little success.
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