The Marine Corp's 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit with 2,200 Marines is in Libya.

ONSLOW COUNTY — We’ve seen Camp Lejuene Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan and now they are joining the fight against Libya.

About 2,200 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will take part in support operations based aboard USS Kearsarge at sea. Those support operations have thus far included air strikes and one rescue operation. The overall mission is to help end the violence directed at the Libyan people.

“In Libya right now they are doing exactly what we need them to do. They are doing what they are told and right now that’s protecting Libyan people against Qadhafi forces,” said Captain Timothy Patrick, a Marine with the 26th MEU.

UPDATE: Conditions set forth by the U.N. Security Council towards resolving the unrest in Libya included the removal of Libyan Leader Muammar al-Qadhafi’s forces from Ajdubiyah. These latest strikes by the MEU aimed at preserving the sanctity of the city and the safety of the civilians within it. In an effort to safeguard the Libyan populace and infrastructure in and around the city of Ajdabiyah from further attacks by regime forces, 26th MEU, as part of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, launched a second round of strikes by AV-8B Harrier jump jets.

“Our primary concern was ensuring the people inside Ajdubiyah were safe from Qadhafi’s artillery and tanks,” said Col. Mark J. Desens, commanding officer of 26th MEU. “Everything we are seeing following these strikes indicates that his forces are now less capable of threatening the town than before.”

 
A Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s AV-8B Harrier jump jet returns to USS Kearsarge for fuel and ammunition resupply while conducting air strikes in support of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, March 20, 2011. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973.  UNSCR 1973 authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces.  JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III.

 

Patrick said that Marines from the 26th MEU are coming on the end of their deployment. They will be replaced with Marines from the 22nd MEU.

A press release from the 26th MEU reads, in part:

“Protecting the innocent and conducting combined operations are what we are designed to do, our forces are doing both as part of the U.S commitment to protect Libyan citizens.”

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