Navy, Marine Unit Deploys to Pakistan

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Aug. 30, 2010 — Time became some­thing of a com­mod­i­ty for Marines and sailors with the 26th Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit here as they pre­pared to deploy a month ear­ly aboard the ships of Kearsarge Amphibi­ous Ready Group.

The ships left the docks at Naval Sta­tion Nor­folk this week respond­ing to an order by Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates to depart before the end of the month to sup­port flood relief efforts in Pak­istan. The group is bring­ing heavy- and medi­um-lift air­craft and oth­er assets. The group is expect­ed to arrive in the Pak­istan vicin­i­ty in late Sep­tem­ber.

“This is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for 26th MEU Marines and sailors to help a key part­ner nation,” said Marine Corps Col. Mark J. Desens, com­mand­ing offi­cer of 26th MEU. “We have a ver­sa­tile and flex­i­ble force that we will use to alle­vi­ate suf­fer­ing of the Pak­istani cit­i­zens affect­ed by this dis­as­ter.”

After assist­ing in Pak­istan, the 26th MEU will con­tin­ue its reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled deploy­ment, which will last more than two months longer than a tra­di­tion­al sev­en-month deploy­ment. The 26th MEU had just com­plet­ed its deploy­ment-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion exer­cise Aug. 10 when it received the noti­fi­ca­tion that it might be called upon to sup­port the Pak­istan flood relief mis­sion. When con­fir­ma­tion arrived a few days lat­er, the Marines had just two weeks to final­ize prepa­ra­tion for deploy­ment. Much of the gear had to be off loaded and re-packed at Camp Leje­une for deploy­ment and the assigned mis­sion. The MEU com­plet­ed train­ing require­ments and final­ized arrange­ments for the fam­i­lies and per­son­al effects of near­ly 2,400 Marines and sailors.

The sailors and Marines are pre­pared for their deploy­ment, Desens said.

“We’ve had a very suc­cess­ful pre-deploy­ment train­ing peri­od,” he said. “Leav­ing our fam­i­lies ear­ly isn’t easy, but we are ready to deploy and put into prac­tice the skills we’ve worked so hard to per­fect. Our mis­sion in Pak­istan is a noble one, and it’s an hon­or­able way to begin this deploy­ment.”

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

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