Posted on October 16, 2023
A special operations Marine Corps unit participating in exercises expected to last through Oct. 22, departed early this week “as a result of emerging events,” according to reports.
On Tuesday, the Marines issued a press release saying marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit would be participating in Marine Air-Ground task force training exercises in Kuwait, Oct. 8-22.
The training started with the USS Bataan, an amphibious ready group and USS Carter Hall, which would arrive near Kuwait and offload elements and equipment for the exercises.
The day before the exercises began, Oct. 7, Hamas-led militants conducted a deadly surprise attack on Israel, killing at least 22 U.S. citizens, leaving at least 17 still unaccounted for, and some being held hostage in Gaza.
Marine Corps Times reported Wednesday that the sailors and Marines who are part of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Kuwait and traveling on the Bataan and Carter Hall, “are no longer in vicinity of Kuwait.”
The publication learned the news from Capt. Angelica White, spokesperson for the unit, on Wednesday.
White also told Marine Corps Times that the group was given orders to return to their ships “to prepare for further tasking as a result of emerging events.”
The spokesperson said the crew is now near Bahrain, though she would not say where they were heading out of concerns for operational safety. White’s statements did not confirm if the “emerging events” were a reference to the attacks in Israel and Gaza, the publication noted.
On Tuesday, the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to “deter any actor seeking to escalate the situation or widen this war,” according to a Tuesday press release from U.S. Command Central.
The strike group includes the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, eight squadrons of attack and support aircraft, Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, and missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt.
“The arrival of these highly capable forces to the region is a strong signal of deterrence should any actor hostile to Israel consider trying to take advantage of this situation,” Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, said.
President Biden, while speaking to a group of Jewish leaders at the White House on Wednesday, issued a warning to Iran to “be careful.”
“You know, I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu I don’t know how many times, but again this morning, and already we’re surging additional military assistance to the Israeli Defense Force, including ammunition, interceptors to replenish the Iron Dome, and we’ve moved the U.S. carrier fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean, and we’re sending more fighter jets there to that region, and made it clear — made it clear to the Iranians: Be careful,” Biden said.
The U.S. Navy announced in August that 3,000 sailors and Marines had arrived in the Middle East, following a call by the Department of Defense for additional troops after “recent attempts by Iran to seize commercial ships in the CENTCOM area of operations.”
The forces from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) were part of the group that arrived in the Middle East at that time.
“Amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 50) and dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) entered the Red Sea after transiting from the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal. Bataan ARG/26th MEU units bring to the region additional aviation and naval assets, as well as more U.S. Marines and Sailors, providing greater flexibility and maritime capability to U.S. 5th Fleet,” CENTCOM said in a statement regarding the August deployment.