As President Bush presses his case with the American public and world leaders to attack Saddam Hussein's Iraq, some 2,000 San Diego-based sailors and 2,200 Marines from the Camp Pendleton-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit stand poised in the Persian Gulf for orders to strike.

"Everybody is working hard," the 11th MEU commander, Marine Col. Anthony M. Haslam, said by telephone Tuesday from the USS Belleau Wood. "We're just standing by, ready to go, if anything comes up."