The Marine Corps command in charge of the branch’s operations in the Middle East has opted to cancel its anniversary celebration.
Citing “unforeseen operational commitments,” the Marine Corps Forces Central Command canceled its 248th Marine Corps Ball which was scheduled for Nov. 16.
“Regretfully and with a strong sense of duty, I write to inform you of a decision that I had to make,” Major General Christopher McPhillips, who oversees the Central Command, wrote in a statement dated Oct. 31 that is circulating online. “Due to unforeseen operational commitments and the nature of the current mission, it is with great regret that we must cancel this year’s event.”
“Our primary responsibility as Marines is to ensure the security and defense of our nation,” McPhillips continues. “It is the commitment to duty that has necessitated the cancellation of what would undoubtedly have been an exceptional evening of camaraderie and tradition.”
“While we must forgo this opportunity this year, it is a reminder of the sacrifices we must make in service to our country,” the major general added. “Please know that this decision was not made lightly, and the chief consideration was the need to uphold the highest standards of readiness and the completion of our operational responsibilities.”
The U.S. Central Command encompasses an approximately 4 million square mile area in the Middle East that is inhabited by 25 ethnic groups. The people living in the region speak 20 different languages “with hundreds of dialects and [practice] multiple religions which transect national borders.”
“The demographics in the [area of responsibility] create opportunities for tension and rivalry,” states the CENTCOM website. “The central region is among the least secure and stable places of the world. Adversarial relationships among neighboring states, widespread ethnic and sectarian struggles, malign influence and destabilizing activities, cyber-based threats, and growing arsenals of sophisticated conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction all combine to imperil enduring U.S. vital national interests, as well as those of our trusted partners and allies.’
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin has sent additional American military support to the Central Command area since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.
“We are going to do everything we need to do to ensure that our forces are protected,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a press conference on Oct. 23. “As always, we maintain the inherent right to self-defense.”
“The focus of the department continues to be on supporting Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorist attacks, deterring a broader conflict in the region, and then ensuring force protection of our troops,” added Ryder.
The official also noted that the U.S. has forces in other parts of the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq. Ryder said deploying additional forces to the region “is meant to be a deterrence message” to any entity that may hope to bring other regional powers into the Hamas-Israel conflict. He said the U.S. will “never hesitate to protect our forces.”
“The department remains concerned that some parties might hope to escalate the conflict in Israel to a larger conflict in the Middle East or to also use the opportunity to attack American forces in the region,” according to the Pentagon.