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

Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Battalion Landing Team, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, take cover while searching for the sniper attempting to pin them down on the edge of a courtyard in Falluja, Iraq, on November 18, 2004. The unit was able to return fire and push through without taking any casulties.  
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

Home camp: Okinawa

Deployed: The unit left Al Anbar Province, Iraq, in February 2005 to return to Okinawa after a six-month deployment.

Units: The 31st MEU includes 2,200 Marines and sailors. The Marines in the 31st MEU include its command element; 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Battalion Landing Team; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced); and MEU Service Support Group 31.

Naval support is provided to the MEU by Amphibious Squadron 11 and the ships of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, including the amphibious assault ship USS Essex, the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry and the transport dock ship USS Juneau.

Duties: The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps' only permanently forward-based MEU. In mid-August 2004, the unit was ordered to deploy to Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 31st MEU was based in Al Anbar, Province, and assigned to 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. The MEU participated in the November 2004 offensive to eliminate insurgents based in Falluja.

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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