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Forces: U.S. & Coalition/Marines
Deployments in the Persian Gulf
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A Marine from the Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, stands on an amphibious assault vehicle at a forward operating base in the greater Baghdad area. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is currently conducting security and stability operations in the greater Baghdad area.  
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Home camp: Camp Pendleton, California

Deployed: Iraq

Units: The roughly 2,000 Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) returned to Iraq in March 2005. The MEU consists of Battalion Landing Team (1st Battalion), 1st Marine Regiment, Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 and MEU Service Support Group 15.

The 15th MEU previously deployed to Iraq before the war began, leaving Camp Pendleton on January 7, 2003, aboard the amphibious assault ships USS Tarawa, USS Duluth and USS Rushmore. The regularly scheduled deployment was not a part of the overall buildup of forces in the Persian Gulf. About 1,900 sailors also were included in the deployment.

Duties: The MEU is deployed at a forward operating base in the greater Baghdad area and are conducting what the Marine Corps calls "security and stabilization operations."

In its 2003 deployment to Iraq, the 15th MEU helped capture the Iraqi port facilities at Umm Qasr and Az Zubayr. The unit then advanced to Nasiriya, where it occupied the Iraqi 11th Infantry Division compound on the city's outskirts. While in Nasiriya, the 15th MEU's Maritime Special Purpose Force assisted in the rescue of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch from Saddam Hospital by conducting a coordinated attack at a nearby enemy headquarters as a diversionary tactic.

A MEU is the smallest of the Marine Air-Ground Task Forces 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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