Marines leaving for Afghanistan


POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2009

Nearly 1,000 Marines and sailors from Kaneohe Bay are deploying to Afghanistan this week as part of the Obama administration's commitment to divert more troops to the combat zone.

The last group of Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, nicknamed “;Island Warriors,”; will leave Kaneohe Bay tonight for a seven-month deployment. They will join nearly 600 soldiers, Marines and sailors from other Hawaii-based units already serving in Afghanistan.

They are part of the troop increase announced by President Barack Obama in mid-February and are assigned to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

The deployment comes as Defense Secretary Robert Gates named Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal to replace Gen. David McKiernan, saying he wanted new leadership and thinking to match the new commander-in-chief's battle plan in Afghanistan.

Obama approved more than 21,000 new U.S. troops for Afghanistan this year as part of a wider strategy to confront the Taliban in select areas and protect the Afghan population from militants.

Gates said the United States will have 68,000 troops in Afghanistan by the end of the year, about double the total at the end of 2008. McKiernan has asked for about 10,000 more next year.

This is the fourth combat deployment for the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines. It went to Afghanistan in 2005 and to Iraq twice—in 2007 and again in 2008. Four Marines died during the 2005 deployment to Afghanistan, while 23 died and 100 were wounded during the first mission to Iraq in 2007. In 2008 the unit lost three Marines in Iraq, including its commanding officer, Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai, 42, of Pago Pago, American Samoa.




Hawaii troops elsewhere

        Major current or impending deployments to Iraq and Kuwait




Number Unit Location Duration
Hawaii National Guard
1,70029th Infantry Brigade Combat TeamKuwait & IraqFrom October '08 to July
Kaneohe Marines
Nearly 9003rd Battalion, 3rd MarinesAsad, Iraq7 months begun in April
Nearly 4,50025th Infantry Division 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the division's HQNorthern IraqLast fall until November
2,40025th Combat Aviation BrigadeIraq1 year beginning in October '09