Elements of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., have been deployed to the Persian Gulf and will be available should President Bush order the military to disarm Iraq, Fox News has learned.
Marine officials at Camp Pendleton tell Fox News that aircraft and equipment, as well as some elements of the full 45,000-member expeditionary force, will be deployed.
There are currently several hundred marines in the 1st expeditionary force headquarters unit already deployed in the Persian Gulf. These marines will remain and be joined by other elements of the expeditionary force.
Also on Friday, the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division from Fort Riley, Kansas, was preparing Friday to go to Fort Irwin, California, for long-scheduled large unit training.
About 3500 troops are to fly out to California mid- January for a month of some of the most realistic desert training the Army conducts in the U.S.
The 1st Armored Division has been the subject of rumors about deployment orders, but as of Friday, none of its brigades (all but 3rd Brigade are in Germany) were confirming receipt of alert or deployment orders.
Approximately 300 From Patriot Missile Battery to Ship Out
Approximately 300 troops could ship out to the Persian Gulf from Fort Bliss, Texas, as early as three weeks from now.
In Texas Thursday, soldiers loaded up equipment, including equipment for the latest generation of the Patriot Missile System.
It is the third incarnation and is called PAC-3 for short. It belongs to the 2-43 Air Defense Artillery Unit.
At this time, the Army post spokesperson would not say which seaport the equipment will leave from before it is shipped to Southwest Asia. Most of the soldiers to be deployed are from the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, the battery that operated the Patriot missiles heavily used during the 1991 Gulf War.
According to defense contractors, this newer PAC-3 System provides capability against ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as aircraft and remotely piloted vehicles.
At a minimum, this equipment requires 80 soldiers to operate and there are 650 soldiers assigned to this particular unit.
More Fort Bliss personnel with the air defense are currently serving in Southwest Asia on a six-month deployment. Last month about 800 soldiers were told their return date was changed to indefinite.