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Defense Secretary visits Lejeune as troops prepare to deploy

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates is visiting Camp Lejeune as thousands of its Marines prepare to deploy as part of the president's troop surge in Afghanistan. Gates arrived Thursday at the urban warfare training facility on the sprawling Marine Corps base in eastern North Carolina. Later in the day, the secretary is scheduled to present awards to four members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. About 4,000 Marines from Camp Lejeune and the nearby Marine Corps air stations at Cherry Point and New River are expected to deploy later this spring. The troops will bolster the 38,000 American troops already fighting a resurgence in Taliban forces. President Obama recently ordered 17,000 more U.S. soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan. (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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