U.S. Navy photo by Lithographer Shanika L. Futrell
U.S. Sailors and Marines from the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group
(ESG) and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit
(MEU) have been directed to assist in the authorized departure of American citizens from Lebanon.
The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon has requested military assistance to help American citizens who wish to depart Lebanon to leave in a secure and orderly manner. Commander, Task Force 59, Marine Brig. Gen. Carl Jensen, is in Cyprus directing military efforts to provide support to the Embassy.
The ESG and MEU are operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations and expect to be in place to provide assistance later this week.
The Iwo Jima Strike Group includes the amphibious ships Iwo Jima, USS Nashville (LPD 13) and USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41). USS Trenton (LPD 14) and High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) have also joined the strike group.
The 24th MEU (special operations capable), commanded by Marine Col. Ron Johnson, is composed of its command element, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 (Reinforced) and the MEU Service Support Group 24.
CH-53E helicopters from the 24th MEU operating from Cyprus have assisted 68 American citizens in departing Lebanon July
16-17. The helicopters are currently continuing those transportation flights.
Source: From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs