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2,000 Marines deploy to the Middle East as crisis response force

U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, aim at potential threats during dismounted patrols and detainee operations at De Luz Combat Town at Camp Pendleton, June 5, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Rachel R. Mendieta)

Units from Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Expeditionary Force have deployed to the Middle East, base officials announced on Monday, June 1.

Four elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are now in Kuwait and will operate under U.S. Central Command, which oversee U.S. military in the Middle East. They will operate as a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response-Central Command.

That means there are units that have both ground, air and logistics capabilities that can respond to a variety of needs in the Middle East.

“At any given moment we may be working with partner nation forces to advance our relationships, assisting the U.S. Department of State in reinforcing an embassy’s security posture, or enhancing naval integration opportunities with the U.S. Navy aboard shipslike the U.S.S. Lewis B. Puller,” said Capt. Joshua Hays, who is with the force in Kuwait.

In all, the deployment includes about 2,000 Marines and sailors. About 200 will make up the task force’s command element, which plans and executes operations during a mission.

Forces from across I Marine Expeditionary Force, including 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group, and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing will make up the SPMAGTF-CR-CC 20.2. Units include 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron-166 (reinforced,) and Combat Logistics Detachment-25.

The 13th MEU replaces another Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response. In January, about 100 of those Marines were dispatched after Iraqi protesters attempted to storm the Baghdad embassy.

That force is heading home and the Marines and sailors who have just arrived have spent hours going over equipment and maintenance.

“It is hot and dusty, and for many, this is either their first deployment or their first deployment to the Middle East and a new experience,” Hays said. “Their pre-deployment training has prepared all of us to be ready and resilient for any situation. We are incredibly proud of their commitment to serve our great nation.”

The deployment was delayed by the Department of Defense’s “stop movement order” in response to the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

During that delay the units kept training for the mission at Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

All of the Marines and sailors underwent a two-week “Restriction of Movement” period prior to beginning their crisis response mission.

“Across the command, Marines and sailors have trained extensively for this mission,” said Sgt. Maj. Stuart D. Glass, the command’s sergeant major. “Our forward-deployed forces are ready to respond to any crisis or event at a moment’s notice.”


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