SOUTHERN IRAQ -- After departing Camp Lejeuene, N.C. in August of last year, the Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) have faced many challenges this deployment. Whether it was conducting peace support operations in Kosovo, or humanitarian assistance operations in Djibouti and Kenya, the 24th MEU has always risen to the challenge. Now, the MEU faces its biggest challenge yet -- Operation Iraqi Freedom.
After receiving word that the MEU's deployment was extended indefinitely to support Iraqi Freedom, the MEU began to send troops ashore.
Over a period of three days, the MEU successfully offloaded nearly all of its 2,300 troops, vehicles and supplies via helicopter and landing craft from the ships of the USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group.
The MEU then spent a brief time ashore in Kuwait awaiting transportation to Iraq.
From there, the Marines conducted several convoy operations into Southern Iraq to move troops and supplies to an intermediate staging area. They also flew into Iraq via KC-130 Hercules airplanes.
Since their arrival in country, the MEU has conducted several successful convoy operations, including one containing 93 vehicles, bringing supplies and troops north through Southern Iraq, passing through the town of An Nasiriyah.
"For us to move that many vehicles and personnel safely through dangerous territory was quite an accomplishment," said Sgt. James Smith, operations NCO, MEU Service Support Group 24. "I think everyone did a great job."
Currently the MEU has begun to set blocking positions and has conducted ground combat operations, with multiple contacts with hostile forces and several enemy prisoners of war detained.
The MEU will continue to take the fight to the enemy, while ensuring security for the supply routes to Baghdad and logistical support operations within its sector.