Marine Corps Forces Central Command in the Middle East announced Friday it was canceling its annual Marine Corps Ball due to the situation in the region.
In a message posted on Facebook on Thursday, it said:
Regrettably, the Command Team has had to make the tough decision to cancel this year’s MARCENT Marine Corps Ball due to the dynamic and uncertain security environment in the [Central Command area of responsibility].
Because of the uncertain situation, the MARCENT Commander wants to avoid a last-minute cancellation that would burden Marines, families, veterans, and members of the community with trying to recoup money from ticket sales, reservations, etc.
To ensure we honor the history and traditions of the service, MARCENT will perform a modified unit-level celebration of the Marine Corps’ birthday. Thank you for your understanding.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a rapid response force, are currently in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, embarked on the USS Mesa Verde, as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, according to U.S. Naval Institute as of Thursday, November 2.
There are there with the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike groups. Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin extended the Ford’s deployment in the Mediterranean and deployed the Eisenhower, after Hamas launched a terrorist attack in southern Israel on October 7, killing over 1,400.
Austin ordered the moves in order to try to contain the crisis and convince any bad actors from widening the conflict. Since the terrorist attack, however, Iran-backed proxy groups across the Middle East have launched attacks towards Israel and more than two dozen rocket and drone attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria. At least 21 U.S. service members have sustained minor injuries from the attacks.
The conflict is now threatening to spread to Lebanon, where Marines could be called up on conduct a non-combatant evacuation operation if necessary. The leader of Lebanese Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, is scheduled to deliver a speech on Friday that could inflame the situation.
The Pentagon has tried to separate the attacks against U.S. bases in the region from the Israel-Hamas War. Officials say U.S. troops are in the region to prevent the return of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and have nothing to do with the Israel-Hamas War.
However, Pentagon officials have acknowledged that Iran-backed groups have warned they would increase attacks against the U.S. in the region in response to Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza.