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Forces: U.S. & Coalition/Marines
Deployments in the Persian Gulf

Capt. William M. Vessey of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit scouts out terrain as Cpl. Michael Davey provides cover for him during a security patrol outside of Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, on August 4, 2004.  
24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines: 2,200

Home camp: Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Deployed: Babil Province, Iraq

Units: The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) arrived in Babil Province, Iraq, in July 2004 to relieve U.S. Army units being sent elsewhere in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2. The MEU consists of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263, Marine Service Support Group 24 and the U.S. Navy's Amphibious Squadron 2. According to the Marine Corps, the MEU also will be strengthened with additional forces, including 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

During major combat in 2003, the 24th MEU played a significant role in securing Route 7, a major supply road running from southern Iraq all the way to Baghdad. They also conducted vehicle checkpoints and successfully completed several raids in which the Marines captured large amounts of weapons and ammunition.

Duties: A Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the smallest of the Marine Air Ground Task Force 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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