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The Marine Corps has fired the senior enlisted leader of the 47,000 strong 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California.

Sgt. Maj. Terrence Whitcomb, the sergeant major of the I MEF, was relieved by Lt. Gen. George Smith Jr., the commanding general, “due to loss of trust and confidence in his abilities to fulfill his assigned duties,” the force’s public affairs office said in a statement. The statement did not say who would assume the role of sergeant major of the force in Whitcomb’s absence.

Based in Southern California, I Marine Expeditionary Force is the largest such force in the service, with a long history of combat deployments. As the unit’s sergeant major, Whitcomb was the senior enlisted leader of the 47,000 strong unit of Marines and sailors, which makes up about a quarter of the Corps’ active duty service.

After joining the branch in 1993, Whitcomb served as a personnel clerk, an administrative chief, a drill instructor, an instructor of drill instructors, and in other roles across his 29-year career, according to his official biography. He deployed as an administrative chief with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005, then in support of the same operation with the 1st Marine Division as a company first sergeant in 2007, then a third time to the Middle East as part of a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force sometime between 2016 and 2018.

The unit’s public affairs office did not immediately respond to a request for more information about Whitcomb’s relief on Wednesday. This story will be updated as more details become available.

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