Kuwait braces for arrival of 5,000 Marines

Thursday, June 10, 2004

ABU DHABI Kuwait has been bracing for the arrival of thousands of U.S. Marines to bolster the military presence in neighboring Iraq.

U.S. Central Command, in cooperation with Kuwaiti authorities, has been preparing ports and other facilities for the arrival of 5,000 U.S. Marines in June. The Marines will spend several weeks in Kuwait and then travel north to Iraq in July.

Kuwait has been the main way-station for U.S. and British troops to and from Iraq. The U.S. Marines will reside in a military base south of Kuwait City for about three weeks before replacing U.S. Army troops, Middle East Newsline reported.

In Kuwait, the Marines will acclimate to the searing desert heat and conduct live weapons training.

Officials said the Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the 24th MEU from Camp Lejeune, N.C. will relieve about 15,000 soldiers from the army's 1st Armored Division and 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Both units saw their stays in Iraq extended by three months because of the Sunni and Shi'ite insurgency in April.

Another U.S. 3,600 soldiers will move through Kuwait in July. The soldiers will come from U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division based in South Korea.

Officials said that for many of the troops this will be their second tour of duty in either Afghanistan or Iraq. They said U.S. military officials in Kuwait were organizing aircraft and ships to transport troops and equipment to Kuwait.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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