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26th MEU from Lejeune heading to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom


USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NEWS RELEASE) - Following a request by the commander of United States Forces Afghanistan, in coordination with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. James N. Mattis, has ordered elements from 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 1,000 MEU Marines and sailors are expected to move into Helmand province by the end of January to provide greater security and support the infrastructure development needed in the region.

"The MEU serves as an important asset to combatant commanders with our capability to conduct missions across the full range of military operations from combat to humanitarian assistance," said Col. Mark J. Desens, commanding officer of 26th MEU. "We have recently demonstrated the latter in Pakistan with our flood relief efforts and will now use these same capabilities to provide security and enable the development of critical infrastructure in Helmand province."

The North Carolina-based 26th MEU deployed Aug. 26, approximately one month earlier than originally scheduled. While elements of the force were simultaneously supporting Pakistan flood relief operations, the MEU took over as the U.S. Central Command theater reserve force in early November. MEU Marines have been conducting training and exercises with regional allies and partners since entering the U.S. 5th Fleet's area of responsibility.

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