Marine Unit Deploys About 1,400 Troops to Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2011 — About 1,400 ser­vice mem­bers of the 26th Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit will deploy to south­west­ern Afghanistan, U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand offi­cials announced today.
The 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 8th Marines is cur­rent­ly aboard the ships of the Kearsarge Amphibi­ous Ready Group oper­at­ing in the Indi­an Ocean. The unit’s home base is Camp Leje­une, N.C., and is the The­ater Reserve Force.

The unit will go ashore with infantry, avi­a­tion and logis­tics assets.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the com­man­der of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, request­ed the extra Marines. He did so after con­sul­ta­tions with Afghan gov­ern­ment offi­cials. The Marines and sailors of the unit will “exploit gains already achieved against insur­gents and more rapid­ly com­plete con­struc­tion of crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture.”

The unit will move in short­ly and take advan­tage of the gains made by fel­low Marines in Hel­mand province. The added Marine con­tin­gent also will enable coali­tion and Afghan forces to expe­dite the clear and hold phase of oper­a­tions this win­ter, offi­cials said.

“The ene­my has pre­sent­ed us with a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to fur­ther our suc­cess against him,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, the com­man­der of Region­al Command–Southwest. “The MEU gives us the capa­bil­i­ty to take advan­tage of that oppor­tu­ni­ty with­out pulling forces away from oth­er on-going oper­a­tions. As [the ene­my] des­per­ate­ly tries to dis­perse for the win­ter, our intent is to sim­ply over­whelm him with an increased oper­a­tional tem­po that he’ll be unable to match.”

A U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand release called the move a “short term” deploy­ment. Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said the unit will be in Afghanistan for about three months and then re-deploy back to their ves­sels.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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