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U.S. Marines in a light armored vehicle – command and control attached to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit return to Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 19, 2006, after a seven-month deployment in support of the war on terror. DoD photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Alan Warner, U.S. Navy. (Released)

A Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) is in the background. The 13th MEU (SOC) and Expeditionary Strike Group One (ESG-1) have been busy since deploying in July:

The ships and Marines split to conduct multiple humanitarian and combat missions simultaneously hundreds of miles apart. “We didn’t just talk about split operations. We did it,” said Navy Capt. Jonathan Picker, Amphibious Squadron One commander. “We displayed the flexibility of the command underway to do multiple missions.”

ESG-1 participated in anti-submarine exercises with Japanese naval forces in late July. Tarawa’s medical department aided more than 3,000 residents of the Philippine island of Tawi-Tawi while the 13th MEU(SOC) supported the region’s Joint Special Operations Task Force command to weed out terrorist networks. After crossing through Egypt and the Suez Canal, ESG-1 and 13th MEU joined a 12-nation military force for “Bright Star” war games and amphibious exercises in September.

In Kuwait City, the Marines left the ships, and were ordered to Iraq to support military operations ahead of the December Iraqi national elections. Meanwhile, the ships conducted maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf, northern Arabian Sea and off the coast of Somalia, an area crisscrossed by suspected terrorists and pirates that threaten commercial shipping and tourism.

For more info, see Navy Times.