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Old 07-23-2003, 04:41 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool 26th MEU awaits orders in Mediterranean

Article ran : 07/22/2003

26th MEU awaits orders in Mediterranean
By ERIC STEINKOPFF
DAILY NEWS STAFF

After participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom in the northern town of Mosul, peacekeeping in Albania and exercises in the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa, the 26th MEU is back on a traditional Mediterranean Sea patrol awaiting orders that may put the unit in Liberia.

Over the past few months, President Bush has maintained that the U.S. is committed to maintain the peace in and around the capital city of Monrovia, and in early July, Marine Gen. James L. Jones - at the helm of U.S. European Command - sent a small humanitarian assistance survey team to the area to see if other forces are needed.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a deployment order over the weekend ordering the 26th MEU's three-ship amphibious ready group from its position off the Horn of Africa into the Mediterranean Sea, defense officials said Monday.

That would put the group in a position to get to the west coast of Africa faster, if needed, for an evacuation of Americans, peacekeeping or some other mission.

"The United States is repositioning the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group to the Mediterranean Sea to conduct operations and sustainment training," 26th MEU spokesman Capt. James Jarvis said Monday. "These forces presently have no further tasking."

On Sunday, Rumsfeld ordered a 41-person fleet antiterrorism security team from Marine Security Forces Europe to deploy to Monrovia to reinforce the Marine security guards at the U.S. embassy.

Such units are heavily armed and highly mobile to provide short-term security for U.S. installations, ships and vital assets around the world.

They are part of Marine Security Forces Battalion in Norfolk, Va., and, as such, also the antiterrorist 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade headquartered at Camp Lejeune. But once they are trained and deployed on routine tours of duty overseas, they take orders from the theater commander.

Not only do these troops practice entering unstable countries like Liberia before they deploy, 26th MEU commander Col. Andy Frick said his troops have been practicing for such a mission since they left Iraq.

"The exercise in Albania was very productive, because we worked with the U.S. ambassador and put the forward command element into a great training environment with real embassy staff," Frick said earlier this month.

The FCE is a team of about 10 to 20 specialists who go ashore to pave the way for more troops from the MEU to reinforce the embassy, evacuate American citizens or provide medicine, food, water and safety for victims of natural or manmade disasters.

It is unclear yet whether reinforced versions of 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264, with AV-8B Harrier jump jets from Cherry Point Air Station's Marine Attack Squadron 223, will be called into action.


Contact Eric Steinkopff at esteinkopff@jdnews.com or at 353-1171, Ext. 236.

http://www.jacksonvilledailynews.com...?StoryID=14363


Sempers,

Roger
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2003, 08:52 AM
sfc_darrel sfc_darrel is offline
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If they must go, I'm glad they have mission specific training.
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