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Camp Pendleton Marines Deployed

Several hundred Camp Pendleton Marines in charge of a 45,000-member force head this week to the Persian Gulf region as the U.S. military prepares for a possible war on Iraq.

A headquarters element of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, one of three main war-fighting commands, is scheduled to leave Friday.

The headquarters element is comprised of planners and commanders whose job is to prepare for the movement of the First MEF´s troops, aircraft, supplies and equipment in the region.

Ground troops in the First MEF helped expel Saddam Hussein´s forces from Kuwait 12 years ago during Operation Desert Storm by clearing openings through heavily defended minefields.

Members of the headquarters element will join up with other U.S. Central Command forces in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and other countries in the area.