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ARLINGTON, Va. — Marines and sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are training in Kuwait in preparation for their movement into Anbar province, a Marine official told Stars and Stripes on Friday.

Where they will go once they get there is still unanswered, however.

“I can tell you they’re not going to Fallujah, that I do know,” Marine Col. Larry Nicholson, commander of Regimental Combat Team 5 in Fallujah, Iraq, told Pentagon reporters Friday.

Other than that, Nicholson said in a video interview from his Fallujah headquarters, “I don’t know where they’re going, but I’m sure my boss out at the [Marine Expeditionary Force] has a plan.”

Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command and the Iraqi theater, told Congress this week that he had OK’d the unit’s move into Anbar, where fierce fighting has claimed at least 21 U.S. servicemembers this month.

The Marines that Abizaid tapped, the 15th MEU from Camp Pendleton, Calif., were already in the area on a deployment that had started in September, Marine Capt. Leticia Reyes, a spokeswoman for the 15th MEU, said in an e-mail to Stripes.

Commanded by Col. Brian Beaudreault, the 15th MEU is the landing force for the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group.

The MEU includes a command element; Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced); and Combat Logistics Battalion 15, Reyes said.

Marine Capt. Danny Chung, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., told Stripes on Thursday that he could not confirm how many of the MEU’s Marines will deploy to Anbar, or even whether all four of its elements will go ashore. A typical MEU consists of 2,200 Marines.

The Marines hit the Kuwaiti beaches on Nov. 12, Reyes said.


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