Approximately 20 Marines from a unit that was still in the midst of training have been sent to the Central Command region on short notice to provide air-defense support, according to the Marine Corps, which provided little information about the impetus for the deployment.
“These Marines will temporarily provide routine air defense support to a larger, layered air-defense effort within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility,” Lt. Col. L.L. Gilbert, a Marine Corps spokesman, wrote in a statement to Marine Corps Times on Monday. “Due to operational security, no further detail is available.”
The deployment of the small group of Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was first announced via a news release Saturday by the unit.
The Marines were “deploying on short notice to United States Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations under the direction of the Combatant Commander, May 1, 2023,″ the news release stated, but offered no additional details about the deployment.
CENTCOM includes 21 counties in and near the Middle East and is commanded by Army Gen. Michael Kurilla.
Gilbert confirmed to Marine Corps Times that the deployment of the approximately 20 Marines “has no direct connection to the ongoing situation in Sudan,” where deadly fighting between the Sudanese military and a rival paramilitary force erupted in April, killing at least 500 and prompting the evacuation of the U.S. embassy by U.S. special operations forces. Sudan falls under Africa Command.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is entering the last stage of a training program in preparation for a deployment to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, according to the news release.
When deployed forward, Marine expeditionary units are expected to be ready to respond quickly if crises, ranging from humanitarian disasters to armed conflict, arise nearby.
Updated June 12: This article has been corrected to more accurately reflect the number of Marines who deployed.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.