Troops receive orders
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    Cool Troops receive orders

    Troops receive orders
    November 07,2003

    Nearly a thousand Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune will leave for Afghanistan this month and several more will head to the Persian Gulf in March, military officials said Thursday.

    Marine Corps Headquarters confirmed that Lejeune's 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, will leave for Afghanistan later this month to support what officials are calling "Operation Enduring Freedom 5." The deployment will add about 900 Marines to around 100 already in the country.

    The confirmation that 2/8 would deploy this month came with a similar Marine Corps headquarters release announcing that two 21,000-person forces, about the size of a division, would be sent to Iraq in two seven-month-long deployments. It was not immediately known how many Lejeune or New River Air Station troops would be heading for Iraq but most of the Marines would be from West Coast bases.

    They will relieve the Army's 82nd Airborne Division in what the U.S. government is calling "Operation Iraqi Freedom 2."

    Marine Corps Headquarters spokesman Maj. Douglas Powell said more than 100 troops from the antiterrorist 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade deployed in October to protect the Kabul embassy.

    Also in Afghanistan are about 230 reservists with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, of Marietta, Ga., and New Orleans. The reservists are there with AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1 Huey helicopter gunships.

    The area along the Afghan-Pakistani border came under increased scrutiny this past summer amid reports that Osama bin Laden and possibly other high-ranking al-Qaida terrorist leaders believed responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 have been restricted to an area of about 35 by 35 miles.

    Two men working for the Central Intelligence Agency were killed in an ambush Oct. 25 as they were tracking terrorists in the region of Shkin, Afghanistan.

    Troops being sent to Iraq will be led by the West Coast's I Marine Expeditionary Force command, with some support from elements of Camp Lejeune's 2nd Marine Division and some helicopter squadrons from New River Air Station.

    "We are globally sourcing units as part of this 21,000, but the preponderance of the forces will be from I MEF," Powell said. "We have active-duty units who have received warning orders."

    The first rotation scheduled from March to September 2004 will likely include 1,500 Marine reservists. Officials are planning to include 4,500 Marine reservists in a second rotation from September 2004 to March 2005.

    Although it is too early to tell which units will be involved and exactly where they will go, Marine Corps Reserve spokesman Capt. Jeff Pool said that most Marine reservists will be ready.

    "We had a total of about 23,000 reservists activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 and about 98.9 percent of our people show up fit for duty,' Pool said.

    Meanwhile, about 244 Marines from Camp Lejeune's 2nd Force Service Support Group - including members of the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Medical Battalion and 2nd Military Police Battalion - will arrive at Cherry Point Air Station Sunday morning from Kuwait and Iraq, where many have been deployed since January.

    "These are the last of our troops to return," said 2nd Force Service Support Group commander Brig. Gen. Ronald S. Coleman, who took command of the unit while he was in Kuwait earlier this year.

    Contact Eric Steinkopff at or 353-1171, Ext. 236.



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    Registered User Free Member Doc Crow's Avatar
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