MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines and sailors with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, said their goodbyes to their families and friends at the Camp Horno parade deck here, Sept. 14, as they deployed to provide security for an embassy in the Middle East.
The servicemembers deployed to a region of the world that has seen constant unrest in the last couple years.
“Right now in the Middle East, it’s a very volatile time,” said Capt. Peter Hersey, the company commander of Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 1st Marines. “There are a lot of changes happening, and a lot of different people struggling for power in the governments.”
The constant changes and unrest in the region makes the Marines’ presence vital for the safety of the American citizens at the embassies.
“There are some people out there that want to do harm to the United States and the largest target out there is some of our embassies,” said Hersey, a native of Silver Spring, Md. “We are going out there to an embassy. If someone decides to attack that embassy, we’ll be there to defend it.”
Each embassy is U.S. soil and the nation’s representative to that country, Hersey said.
The Marines trained on short notice for this deployment but did not let the shortened timeframe interfere with the quality of their work.
“We specialized in nonlethal training, dealing with rioting civilians and harping on keeping composure when dealing with outside individuals,” said Sgt. Thaddeus Bell, a radio operator and data network specialist with the battalion.
The Marines said they want to go there and calm the situation. They are prepared to act with force if necessary, but trained to first use nonlethal tactics if possible, said Bell, a native of Chicago.
With Operation Enduring Freedom coming to a close, Marines are focusing on returning to a quick reaction force for the U.S. and maintaining combat readiness.
“I think it’s important to understand that even if Marines do not have standing orders, Marines train for war and combat,” Hersey said. “When everyone else is focused on the transition to peace, Marines are the ones who train and if should something happen, they are ready to deploy and respond at a moment’s notice.”
The Marines with the battalion gave their loved ones a hug before they left. Many family members stayed and watched as the buses departed with their servicemembers.
In a country thousands of miles away, the Marines will be there to defend U.S. soil during a tumultuous time.