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Panetta Plans Visit to Amphibious Assault Ship

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will travel to Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 30, where he will visit the USS Peleliu, which represents a naval priority for the department, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little announced today.

Little told reporters the secretary will travel to the Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship by hovercraft, and will visit sailors and Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the ship.

“Consistent with our recently issued strategic guidance and budget proposals, the department will continue to prioritize big deck amphibious assault ships such as the Peleliu because of the flexibility they provide commanders to move Marines and supplies ashore,” Little said.

The Peleliu has provided critical support to U.S. Central Command and to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, he said.

“In November 2001, the Peleliu conducted the deepest insertion of ground forces in Marine Corps history to launch the first Marines into Afghanistan,” Little noted. “On its most recent deployment, in August 2010, the Peleliu provided relief to victims of flooding in Pakistan.”

Panetta will speak to service members during “all-hands call” and will observe aircraft operations, the press secretary said. The secretary also will visit the medical bay and have lunch with junior enlisted sailors and Marines.


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