The Pentagon is authorizing military family members and civilians with non-emergency jobs to leave Bahrain as a Shiite uprising spawned violence across the capitol and surrounding region.
Tuesday's announcement allows the families and civilians to voluntarily leave Bahrain and go to designated safe havens, mostly in the United States, at government expense. Bahrain is home to the Navy's 5th Fleet, a key military headquarters in the Gulf region.
The 5th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Mark Fox, told service members that naval operations will continue and military workers will keep reporting to their posts.
Bahrain's king has declared a three-month state of emergency, and more than 1,000 Saudi-led troops moved into the country to defend the Sunni monarchy. Washington has urged restraint, but hundreds of Bahraini protesters have been reported injured.