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Deployment of 22nd MEU Delayed to Support Efforts in Persian Gulf


Story by Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks
Story Identification Number: 2003212153520

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Feb. 11, 2003) -- The next deployment of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has, in military parlance, 'shifted to the right.' This change was precipitated by the build-up of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf now poised for possible military action against Iraq.

In Dec. 2002, the 22nd MEU Command Element assumed operational control of its major subordinate elements (MSEs) and began detailed planning for its pre-deployment training which was scheduled to begin in January with an exercise at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.

However, the stand-up and subsequent deployment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) in early January stripped the 22nd MEU of its MSEs (1st Bn., 2nd Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 162, and MEU Service Support Group 22). Additionally, the ships scheduled to serve with the MEU are now forward deployed as well.

The MEU Command Element, with the exception of a few of its attachments which were reabsorbed by their parent commands, has remained intact.

In a recent address to the Marines and Sailors of the 22nd MEU Command Element, the unit's commanding officer, Col. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., noted the unit has been afforded a rare opportunity.

Normally, the majority of the Marines and Sailors assigned to a MEU Command Element stay for two deployments, and between the exhaustive pre-deployment training regimen and the actual deployment, there is precious little time to fulfill individual training requirements and maximize other opportunities.

"We're going to make the most of this time," said McKenzie, who assumed command of the 22nd MEU last October. "We're going conduct training Command Elements don't normally get the chance to do and refine our skills to become the best Command Element we can possibly be for when our time to deploy comes."

Originally scheduled to deploy in late summer as the landing force for the first-ever Expeditionary Strike Group concept, the MEU does not yet have a definitive date for 'locking on' its new MSEs, its pre-deployment training, or deployment.

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