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

A Landing Craft Utility from the USS Nassau (LHA-4) carries M1-A1 tanks and Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) ashore in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  
24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)

Marines: 2,200

Home camp: Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Units: The Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are part of the Nassau Amphibious Ready Group, which includes the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau, amphibious transport dock ship USS Austin and dock landing ship USS Tortuga. The MEU, consisting of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 and Marine Service Support Group 24, was set to return home by May 1, 2003 but its deployment was indefinitely extended and the unit performed operations in Iraq. The unit returned home on May 26, 2003.

Duties: A Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the smallest of the Marine Air Ground Task Force and consists of approximately 1,900 Marines and 100 naval personnel. It is usually deployed aboard an amphibious assault ship, a dock landing ship and an amphibious transport dock. An MEU is typically organized as follows:

• A command element
• A ground combat element that is built on an infantry battalion and is typically armed with four tanks, six howitzers and 13 amphibious assault vehicles
• A composite aviation squadron with 22 helicopters and six strike fighters
• A logistical support element known as a MEU Service Support Group

In some circumstances, like the war in Iraq, an MEU is part of a larger Marine air-ground task force like the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

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