Okinawa MEU: No word has been received about possible deployment
December 3, 2003
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — If Okinawa-based Marines here are being considered for deployment to Iraq next spring, it’s news to them.
Responding to local reports that 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines from Camp Schwab and helicopter units from Futenma Marine Corps Air Station may be among three brigades to be deployed, Marine officials here say nothing has been decided.
“We have not received any notification about deployment to Iraq,” spokesman Capt. Chris Perrine said Monday. “As I understand it, no decision has been made as to the source of the additionally approved battalions.”
Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the Marine Corps to deploy an additional three battalions with combat support and combat service support units for operations in support of the second round of troop rotation in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The local Ryukyu Shimpo daily newspaper, citing no sources, said Okinawa-based Marines would be among those to be redeployed.
U.S. officials, however, said no decision had been made about how many troops would be deployed or where they would come from.
The Marine Corps still is working plans to deploy to Iraq “three maneuver battalions with the corresponding combat support and combat service support,” said Marine spokesman Capt. Dan McSweeney from the Pentagon.
While military leaders have yet to identify specific units, sending Marines from Okinawa to Iraq “is certainly in the realm of a possibility,” McSweeney said.
“But details still are being worked out, such as the units, where they’re coming from, the exact numbers, the active and reserve mix,” McSweeney said.
Last week, defense officials tossed out a rough number of 3,000 Marines, but the end number is likely to be higher, McSweeney said.
Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report from Okinawa. Sandra Jontz contributed to this report from Washington.