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MODERATOR: Let's go ahead and get started. Good afternoon, and to Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh, good evening, and thank you for taking the time this evening from Bahrain. Our briefer is Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh, who is the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. 5th Fleet. Vice Admiral Walsh and his staff are coordinating the U.S. military's assistance to the departure of Americans from Lebanon. He is speaking to you outside his headquarters in Bahrain.
We have six ships coming out of our area of responsibility, which includes ships from the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba that are enroute. This is part of the Expeditionary Strike Group led by the Iwo Jima, and in conjunction with our European Command, we have three ships that are flowing in into the Mediterranean -- eastern Mediterranean -- excuse me -- enroute to the joint operating area off the coast of Beirut.
Well, this is our rapid response capability. They're capable of amphibious operations day and night, all weather. They're also capable of operations that are conventional in terms of an authorized departure like this. And so this is a core Marine competency; this is part of the effort here that Marines train to, to be able to handle and facilitate the movement of this large number of people over to Cyprus. So remember, they have an air element that will be part of the effort. They have a ground element that we will have in ready reserve in the event that we need them. And they also have a support group that will be part of facilitating this mission.
At that point, I don't think it would be helpful to speculate any further in terms of going ashore or future operations that may involve or may not involve the use of amphibious Marines ashore. So let's leave it at that, and then we'll talk further in the event that the environment changes.