ABOARD USS TARAWA -- After successfully performing combat operations throughout Southern Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) has returned to the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group to prepare for follow on operations in the Central Command Area of Operations.
The 15th MEU was relieved by Regimental Combat Team 2, which will continue security and stability operations and humanitarian missions throughout the city for an undetermined length of time.
At the start of the war, the 15th MEU began its assault by seizing the port towns of Umm Qasr and Az Zubayr to close enemy supply routes and facilitate the start of humanitarian assistance. Elements of the Battalion Landing Team 2/1 quickly took control of the Old and New Port facilities to allow humanitarian aid to begin flowing into Iraq.
The 15th MEU then shifted to An Nasiriyah where it occupied the Iraqi 11th Infantry Division Compound on the outskirts of the city. They immediately placed MEU units throughout Nasiriyah and began supplying local residents with purified water taken directly from the Euphrates River.
While in Nasiriayh, the 15th MEU's Maritime Special Purpose Force assisted in the rescue of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch from Saddam Hospital by performing a coordinated attack at a nearby enemy headquarters, in addition to completing a number of other special missions designed to reduce the enemy's threat here.
The 15th MEU departed San Diego on January 6 for a regularly scheduled six-month deployment and is currently due to return this summer. They will remain in the CentCom AOR to remain available for quick response missions, before transiting back to the United States.