ARLINGTON, Va. — With U.S. Marine forces poised off the coast of Liberia, U.S. military leaders have called off participation in this round of Bright Star, a monthlong, multinational exercise in Egypt, officials said.

Two Defense Department officials, who spoke Friday on the condition of anonymity, independently confirmed that Pentagon leadership ended the Marine Corps’ participation, which every two years commits roughly 2,200 Marines from an East Coast Marine Expeditionary Unit to the fall training that this year was scheduled for Oct. 8 through Nov. 1.

Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, from Camp Lejeune, N.C., were slated to participate in Bright Star, but have been sitting off the coast of Liberia in west Africa for about a week.

“There are no orders for any forces to go into Liberia other than the seven” who landed Wednesday in the capital of Monrovia to provide security backup for a 500-soldier contingency of Nigerian peacekeepers, said Marine spokesman Capt. Shawn Turner, who had heard rumblings of the cancellation, but as of Friday, had not been given the official word.

“But we’re constantly looking at the situation and conventional thinking is that we have to maintain those forces in place,” Turner said.

Three ships of the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group are sitting roughly 40 miles off Liberia’s coast.

Bright Star is aimed at promoting regional stabilization and gives the coalition militaries a chance to strengthen strategic operational and tactical missions.

The U.S. military has conducted it with the Egyptian government since 1981. From the United States, only the Marine Corps participates, and the exercise tests the Marines’ air, naval and ground capabilities.

This year, the cancellation will not greatly hurt the Marines, since they have gotten a taste of real-world experiences. The 26th MEU deployed March 5 from North Carolina and has participated in combat missions in Mosul, Iraq, and has since participated in exercises in Albania and Djibouti.

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