February 28, 2006
Third tour: The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force will assume responsibility for Iraq's volatile Anbar province today, starting the Camp Pendleton-based command's third combat tour in the conflict that has killed 657 Marines and sailors, and injured 5,255. Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, will lead the force of more than 29,000 Marine and Army troops of Multi-National Force-West in Anbar. Lt. Gen. John Sattler, 1st MEF commanding general, will remain at Camp Pendleton. Zilmer and his personnel also will be directing, training and mentoring the expanding Iraqi security forces. The 1st MEF headquarters will relieve Maj. Gen. Stephen Johnson and the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force staff, which have been responsible for western Iraq for nearly a year.