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Forces: U.S. & Coalition/Marines
Deployments in the Persian Gulf

Lance Cpl. Cook with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, moves into better position during a firefight in Iraq.  
1st Marine Expeditionary Force

Home camp: Camp Pendleton, California

Destination: Iraq

Units: The Pentagon ordered some units of the 45,000-member expeditionary force to deploy to the Persian Gulf region for the war with Iraq. The MEF has overall command of all Marine units in the Persian Gulf region and it includes elements of the 1st Marine Division and the 1st Marine Regiment plus Marine aviation units. Roughly 7,000 Marines from the 1st Marine Regiment and about 3,000 sailors left San Diego January 17, 2003, aboard the amphibious assault ships USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Boxer, amphibious transport dock ships USS Cleveland and USS Dubuque, and dock landing ships USS Anchorage, USS Comstock and USS Pearl Harbor.

More than 1,000 Marines from the 1st MEF were already in Kuwait at Camp Commando, a desert base camp near Iraq. On January 7, 2,100 Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is part of the 1st MEF, departed San Diego aboard the amphibious assault ships USS Tarawa, USS Duluth and USS Rushmore. The regularly scheduled deployment is not a part of the overall buildup of forces in the Persian Gulf. About 1,900 sailors are included in the deployment.

The 1st MEF began to head home in August and September 2003 and transferred authority for five provinces in southern Iraq to a Polish-led multinational force on September 3, 2003 at Camp Babylon, Iraq.

Duties: A Marine Expeditionary Force is the largest and most robust Marine-Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). A MAGTF combines air elements, ground combat elements and logistical support elements under the command of a three-star general. An MEF can be comprised of one or more full Marine Aircraft Wings, one or more Force Service Support Groups and one or more complete infantry Divisions. The makeup of a typical MEF includes the following:

• Command Element plus C2 and reconnaissance/surveillance assets
• An Marine division of 18,000 Marines organized into three infantry regiments, one artillery regiment, one tank battalion, one anti-aircraft battalion, one combat engineering battalion and one light-armored battalion.
• A Marine Aircraft Wing with 15,000 Marines and approximately 300 aircraft.
• A Force Service Support Group of 9,000 Marines to provide supply, maintenance, health services, transportation and other logistical services.

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