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Camp Pendleton units to deploy to the Middle East in planned rotation

U.S. Marines with Headquarters Company, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, conduct a conditioning hike for pre-deployment training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 30, 2019.

THOMAS SPENCER/U.S. MARINE CORPS

By ERIKA I. RITCHIE | The Orange County Register | Published: February 29, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — Marine Corps units from Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Expeditionary Force are preparing to deploy to the Middle East, base officials announced on Friday, Feb. 28.

Four elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit will head out over the next few weeks and will operate under U.S. Central Command, one of the Department of Defense's unified commands that oversee U.S. military in the Middle East. They will operate as a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force –  Crisis Response.

That means there are units that have both ground, air and logistics capabilities that can respond to a variety of needs, including providing humanitarian assistance, non-combatant evacuations and tactical recovery of a downed aircraft or personnel.

In all, the deployment will include 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.

Once those Marines and sailors have arrived, they will be joined by another about 1,500 Marines and sailors from the 2nd Battalion/5th Marines, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron-166, and Combat Logistics Detachment-25.

The 13th MEU will replace currently deployed units. In January, about 100 of the crisis response Marines were dispatched after Iraqi protesters –  supportive of an Iran-backed Shiite militia –  attempted to storm the Baghdad embassy.

Unlike most Marine Expeditionary Units in which Marines and sailors serve aboard three Navy ships, these troops will fly to the Middle East.

"Wherever we're needed, we're equipped to do any mission we're asked to do," said Capt. Josh Hays, spokesman for the 13th MEU.

The deployment is part of a rotational deployment.  Units have been training at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms over the last months to prepare for the mission.

Another group from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force has deployed to train with the United Arab Emirates Forces as part of Exercise Native Furry.

The exercise –  a bi-annual event now in its seventh year –  includes thousands of forces who train for disasters and immediate threats and crises across the Middle East region. The exercise trains units in maritime capabilities, including amphibious assaults, logistics and shore attacks. It is done jointly with the U.S. Army and promotes understanding between the branches, international forces and between the U.S. and the Arab Emirates, officials said.

The Marines and sailors will train in live-fire scenarios that could include off-loading personnel, equipment and humanitarian supplies. Training will also include convoys across the UAE.

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