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US Forces Order of Battle - 01 October 2003

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Britain and France have asked the United States to lead, at least initially -- a peace-keeping operation designed to separate and disarm the warring factions and establish an environment where a transitional government can take control of the country. ECOWAS has pledged 3,000 troops for an intervention force and is asking the United States to pledge 2,000 troops in this effort.

This is a "best available" listing of US forces deployed to the European Command AOR for Africa. This listing focuses exclusively on those forces being sent to Liberia in support of humanitarian or Department of State operations. There are currently 200 troops in or around Liberia, consisting mostly of Marines and Naval assets.

Recent Developments

  • On June 13, 2003 the USS Kearsarge was diverted off the coast of Liberia to conduct operations in support of Operation Shining Express. Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade were to provide embassy security.
  • On or about June 20, 2003 the USS Kearsarge and the Marines on board departed Liberia and headed back to the United States.
  • On July 6, 2003 US European Command deployed a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team to Monrovia to assess requirements for temporary military-specific support to Department of State and humanitarian relief agencies. The HAST unit consisted of some 31 individuals. According to a Navy story on July 9, 2003 fifteen Marines from the FAST at Rota were also deployed.
  • On July 21, 2003 a Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team was deployed to Monrovia from Rota, Spain. 41 Marines were deployed, in addition to the 15 Marines that had deployed with the HAST. Reports from CNN on July 21, 2003 indicate that only 21 Marines from the FAST arrived at the Embassy as the continued violence and the shelling at the Embassy caused the arrival of the rest of the Marines to be delayed.
  • On July 21, 2003 the Associated Press reported that the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit had received orders to transit the Suez Canal and head for a position in the Mediteranean in anticipation of a deployment to that country. There is some confusion surrounding just where exactly the Iwo Jima is headed. Multiple press sources are stating that the ARG is headed for a position near Liberia while others are stating that the ARG is only headed to the Mediterranean.
  • The Hampton Roads Pilot confirmed that a portion of the FAST sent to Monrovia aborted and is currently waiting in Lungi, Sierra Leone for orders to redeploy.
  • An Air Force photo release on July 21, 2003 indicates that elements from the 85th Group are currently located at Lungi, Sierra Leone. Elements include the 85th Maintenance Squadron and the 56th Rescue Squadron. An unknown number of HH-60Gs are present.
  • The 20 Marines in Sierra Leone were inserted into Liberia on July 23.
  • On July 25, 2003 President Bush announced that the United States would reposition forces near Liberia in the event that the US were to provide support to Liberia. The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group has been dispatched to the area.
  • Two battalions from Nigeria have been pledged to provide support to peacekeeping efforts in Liberia. The first battalion of 770 soldiers will arrive on or about August 1, 2003. The second battalion, of some 600-700 soldiers will deploy through Lagos.
  • An US Air Force Europe News story on July 29, 2003 identifies two additional units including the 1st Combat Communications Squadron and the 398th Air Expeditionary Squadron, both operating in Sierra Leone.
  • By August 5, 2003 roughly 250 soldiers of an unidentified unit from Nigeria arrived at the airport in Monrovia. These forces are the lead element of the Nigerian contribution to the African peacekeeping effort.
  • Reports on August 6, 2003 indicate that team of roughly 7 Marines are to be moved ashore to provide logistical support to Nigerian peacekeepers.
  • On August 13, 2003 the Department of Defense stated during its daily briefing that a Navy SEAL team had been inserted into Monrovia and was inspecting the port area in preparation for the deployment of some 200 Marines. The specific SEAL unit was not identified.
  • Elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit began to land in Monrovia on August 14, 2003. This was a Quick Reaction Force, comprised of Marines from the 1st Battalion, 8th marines. These are the first of some 200 Marines that are to operate in Liberia.
  • President Bush stated during an Armed Forces news cast that Marines in Liberia would be out of the country by October 1, 2003.
  • A US Air Forces in Europe News story indicates that there are USAF elements operating in Dakar, Senegal supporting operations in Liberia. The forces in Senegal consist of elements of the 52nd Communications Squadron and elements of the 37th Airlift Squadron (which is incorrectly identified by the story as the 37th Airlift Wing). It appears that there is a C-130 presence at the location, though it is not clear how many are there.
  • European Stars & Stripes reported on August 21, 2003 that Southern European Task Force (Airborne) is coordinating and directing US peacekeeping efforts in Liberia. The story indicates that roughly 12 soldiers from SETAF are in country.
  • 150 Marines from the 26th MEU returned to the USS Iwo Jima and other vessels on August 24, 2003, according to the Washington Post on August 25. This redeployment is believed to include the bulk of the quick reaction forces sent by the MEU earlier this month. It is not clear if the Disaster Relief Team has also been withdrawn.
  • The 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is operating in Dakar, Senegal, as is the 398th Air Expeditionary Group.
  • The 786th Security Forces Squadron was identified as being located at Lungi in a US Air Forces Europe story from September 3, 2003.
  • On September 29, 2003 the Deoartment of Defense announced that Joint Task Force Liberia would be withdrawing from the area. Elements of the Iwo Jima ARG had already departed the region, heading for Spain, and the Iwo Jima herself would be following shortly. Roughly 50 Marines from ROTA are to remain at the embassy in Monrovia to provide security (this is in addition to the normal embassy security detachment). Air assets in Senagal are to depart the area shortly.

Joint Task Force Liberia

TOTAL~ 100
Liberia - Monrovia
U/I Pltn Elem, Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team~ 41
Det. Co G, Marine Security Guard BN?

US EUCOM - Air Forces

Location Unit Aircraft Personnel
TOTAL~ 800
Land Based Aircraft
Senegal - Dakar
398th Air Expeditionary Group
37th Airlift Sq? - C-130E
86th Aircraft Maintenance Sq
52nd Communication Sq
Sierra Leone - Lungi
398th Air Expeditionary Sq
786th Security Forces Sq
56th Rescue Sq?3 - HH-60G
1st Combat Communications Sq
85th Maintenance Sq

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:30:45 Zulu