US Marines crisis unit to deploy to Mideast

US Marines from Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines Regiment conduct a patrol in Garmser, Helmand Province on June 29, 2012 (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Washington (AFP) - The US Marine Corps plans to deploy 2,300 troops to the Middle East for a new unit designed to quickly respond to crises in the volatile region, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

It will include several aircraft and be prepared to move rapidly in the case of "contingencies," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

The idea for the task force originated in 2013 -- before the current US air campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria -- and was not related "to the ongoing operations in Iraq," Kirby said.

A senior Marine Corps officer said last week that the new task force for the Middle East region would be based out of Kuwait.

The "special purpose marine air ground task force" is part of a push by the military to improve its ability to respond to crises, including embassy evacuations, following a deadly attack on a US diplomatic post in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2012.

The US Marine Corps has already set up a similar unit in Moron, Spain that is assigned to the Africa region.