ARABIAN SEA (NNS) -- The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) hosted a trio of senior military leaders June 22.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM); Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Combined Maritime Forces, U.S. 5th Fleet; and Brig. Gen. Francis Donovan, commander, Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, visited Iwo Jima to meet with Sailors and Marines while seeing firsthand the capabilities of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
For Votel, the visit was part of a larger trip throughout his combatant command and a chance to thank the embarked Marines and crew of Iwo Jima for the work they've done since entering U.S. 5th Fleet in March.
"We're very glad to have you in the CENTCOM area of responsibility," said Votel during an announcement over Iwo Jima's public address system. "We closely track the work you're doing. We're going to rely on this ship and others like it to be our principal response capability. Good luck to all of you. Thanks very much for your service."
During their visit, the three were shown a variety of amphibious equipment that allows the Navy-Marine Corps team to provide a ready, versatile amphibious assault capability and vigilant maritime presence to the region.
After watching flight operations and visiting the ship's bridge, the group shared lunch with 20 Sailors and Marines on the mess decks.
"I was glad to eat with Gen. Votel," said Lance Cpl. Matthew Rawls, assigned to the 26th MEU. "We talked briefly about what is happening in the region and how important it is for us to be here, and he expressed gratitude to me and everybody else for the sacrifice we've made to serve our country."
Iwo Jima, homeported in Mayport, Florida, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th MEU and is comprised of Iwo Jima, the transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 4 and 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2 and the embarked staff of commander, Amphibious Squadron 4.
The 26th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,500 Marines and Sailors and includes a command element, ground combat element, aviation combat element and logistics combat element.
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