26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

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26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
OFFICIAL 26TH MEU LOGO 120228.jpg
Active 1975–present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Special Operations Capable - Marine Air-Ground Task Force
Role Crisis Response Force
Size 2,400
Part of II Marine Expeditionary Force
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Motto "A Certain Force in an Uncertain World"
Mascot Rooster
Engagements Operation Desert Shield
Operation Sharp Edge
Operation Provide Promise
Operation Deny Flight
Operation Silver Wake
Operation Noble Anvil
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Swift Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Odyssey Dawn
Commanders
Current
commander
Col. Matthew G. St. Clair

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) is one of seven Marine Expeditionary Units currently in existence in the United States Marine Corps. The Marine Expeditionary Unit is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force with a strength of about 2,400 personnel when full strength during deployment. The MEU consists of four major parts: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element, and a logistics combat element. Since its establishment in the early 1970s as the 26th Marine Amphibious Unit, the MEU has deployed extensively, and participated in numerous combat and contingency operations, as well as training exercises. The 26th MEU is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Current major subordinate elements[edit]

As of 6 December 2013, the 26th MEU is decomposed and does not have reinforcing commands. The following units participated in the MEU's deployment from March–November 2013:

Ground Combat Element: Battalion Landing Team 3/2

Aviation Combat Element: Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 (Rein) VMM-266

Logistics Combat Element: Combat Logistics Battalion 26

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was established on 24 April 1967 for a short mission, and quickly deactivated (as was the norm during this period) on 20 October 1967. During June–December 1969, the MEU was reactivated as the 36th Marine Expeditionary Unit for Exercise Landing Force Caribbean 3-69 (LANFORCARIB 3-69).

In 1975 the 36th Marine Amphibious Unit participated in Exercise Staff Zugel in West Germany. This marked the first time since World War I that Marines took a combined arms force ashore in Germany. The unit was redesignated as the 26th Marine Amphibious Unit in 1982 and became part of the rotation cycle of three MAUs on the East Coast in 1985. It was the first of the MAUs to undergo Special Operations Capability training, earn the SOC qualification and have AV-8B Harriers attached. In 1988 the unit was again redesignated as the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

1990s through 2000[edit]

In 1991 the MEU supported Operation Desert Shield by providing a "Show of Force" in the Mediterranean, and participated in Operation Sharp Edge, a non-combatant evacuation operation of Liberia. The next year saw the MEU participating in Operation Provide Promise, Operation Deny Flight and Operation Sharp Guard off the coast of Yugoslavia.

In 1994 the 26th MEU participated in ceremonies marking the 50th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. The MEU also supported Operation Restore Hope off the coast of Somalia and participated in continued operations in Bosnia.

Three years later the MEU launched Operation Silver Wake, evacuating American citizens and Third Country Nationals from Albania, and also participated in Operation Guardian Retrieval, the staging of forces in Congo for a possible evacuation of Zaire.

In 1998 the MEU served as the Headquarters for the Strategic Reserve Force during Exercise Dynamic Response in Bosnia. The SRF is a multinational force made up of forces from the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Romania, Poland and the United States.

The 26th MEU played a notable role in the Balkan conflict. In 1998 it participated in Operation Determined Falcon, the one-day NATO aerial show-of-force in Kosovo. In April to May 1999 it took part in Operation Noble Anvil and Operation Shining Hope. While supporting Noble Anvil, the NATO bombing Campaign in Kosovo, with AV-8B Harrier Attack Aircraft, the MEU also provided security for Kosovar Refugees at Camps Hope and Eagle in Albania. From June to July 1999 it participated in Operation Joint Guardian. As the first U.S. Peacekeepers in Kosovo, the Marines and the Sailors of the MEU provided stability to the embattled region.

August 1999 saw the MEU taking part in Operation Avid Response, providing Humanitarian Assistance to the people of Western Turkey left homeless by a devastating earthquake.

The MEU Conducted Adriatic presence operations during the election crisis in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, September 2000. The MEU also participated in exercises Atlas Hinge in Tunisia and Croatian Phibex 2000, the first ever bi-lateral exercise between the Marine Corps and the Croatian Armed Forces. During the next two months the MEU supported diplomatic initiatives during unrest in Israel while simultaneously taking part in the NATO exercise Destined Glory 2000, and continued to break new ground by the second ever bi-lateral exercise between the Marine Corps and the Croatian Armed Forces, exercise Slunj 2000.

Global War on Terrorism[edit]

26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Maritime Raid Force Marines conduct an amphibious insertion during sustainment training in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility, 3 August 2013.
U.S. Marines of Company K, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), sprint to the gun line with their 60mm mortars during their sustainment training in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility, 7 August 2013.

Following the events of 11 September 2001, the Marines of the 26th MEU were among the first U.S. Forces into Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Swift Freedom. From December 2001 to February 2002, 26th MEU (SOC) Marines reinforced the 15th MEU (SOC) who had conducted the 450 mile seizure of Camp Rhino in November 2001 and Kandahar International Airport in December 2001. Both MEUs worked together and constructed a detainment facility that held more than 400 Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists.

From March–May 2003, the 26th MEU supported Operation Iraqi Freedom conducting operations in Erbil and Mosul, Iraq. The MEU was inserted via CH-53 and KC-130 and conducted operations until relieved by the 101st Airborne Division.

The 26th MEU served as the primary tactical unit for Joint Task Force Liberia from August to September 2003 in the Second Liberian Civil War. The MEU capitalized on its extensive training in humanitarian assistance operations and U.S. Embassy relations to help bring peace to the war-torn nation following the exile of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

In Iraq, several hundred Marines and Sailors from the 26th MEU conducted Operation Sea Horse in Iraq from July to August in 2005, supporting British-led Multi-National Division Southeast with a mission to detect and deter illicit activity along the Iraqi border. The MEU maintained command and control of Operation Sea Horse from aboard ship in the Northern Persian Gulf, while simultaneously and concurrently conducting training missions in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.

In August 2008, the 26th MEU deployed aboard the ships of the Iwo Jima Strike Group. During the deployment, MEU Marines detached to support combat operations in Iraq and in support of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

The 26th MEU and Marines from several other units formed Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 in November 2009 to support the commissioning of USS New York in New York City.

In August 2010, the 26th MEU sailed with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group a month early for their scheduled deployment in order to assist with disaster relief operations in Pakistan.

Involvement in Operation Odyssey Dawn[edit]

Beginning on 19 March 2011 the 26th MEU took part in Operation Odyssey Dawn to help enforce the Libyan no-fly zone. On 22 March, two MV-22 Osprey, containing a payload of twenty five Recon Marines as a TRAP force, and operated by the 26th MEU operating off of the USS Kearsage recovered the pilot of a USAF F-15E Strike Eagle who ejected after an equipment malfunction. The Weapons Systems Officer was recovered by Libyan rebels and returned to US forces unharmed.[1][2][3]

Hurricane Sandy disaster relief operations[edit]

Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps meets with Col. Matt St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer to discuss further plans regarding Hurricane Sandy disaster relief.

In November 2012, the 26th MEU self-deployed from Camp Lejeuene aboard MV-22B Osprey to the USS Wasp, which was stationed in New York Bay in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. There, the MEU conducted Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) operations, clearing debris, distributing food and water, and providing aid and comfort to the residents of Staten Island, and Rockaway, Queens. The Marines and Sailors would move ashore by helicopter or surface craft in the morning, conduct disaster relief operations during the day, and return to the ship at night to put less strain on the stressed infrastructure ashore.

Notable facts[edit]

  • 1995 -- The first MEU to deploy with M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks.
  • 1996 -- The first MEU to deploy with the Joint Task Force Enabler (JTFE) communications package.
  • November 2000 -- The 26th MEU's Battalion Landing Team, BLT 2/2, launched the first ever FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile fired by a deployed MEU.
  • March 2003 -- In 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Marine Corps KC-130s traveled 1,100 miles (1,800 km) and delivered 1,000 over Marines directly to the battlefield in Mosul, Iraq - a feat never before attempted.
  • January 2007 -- The MEU is the first to deploy with a MARSOC attachment.
  • March 2009 -- The 26th MEU completes the final scheduled East Coast MEU deployment with the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, which is being replaced by the MV-22 Osprey.
  • August 2010 -- The first MEU to deploy with an Everything over Internet Protocol (EoIP) configured Joint Task Force Enabler (JTFE) communications package.

Unit awards[edit]

The 26th MEU has been awarded the following unit awards and Campaign streamers:

Navy Unit Commendation with three Bronze Stars

  • Libya—1986
  • Kosovo—1999
  • Afghanistan—2001–2002
  • Liberia 2003
Meritorious Unit Commendation with Two Bronze Stars.jpg

Meritorious Unit Commendation with two Bronze Stars

  • Libya—1985-1987
  • Albania—1996–1998
  • Turkey—1999
Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer-with-one-Bronze-Star.jpg

Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer with one Bronze Star

National-Defense-Service-St.jpg

National Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Star

KosovoCampaign StreamerWithTwoBronzeStars.jpg

Kosovo Campaign Streamer with two Bronze Stars

Streamer gwotE.PNG

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer


Iraq Campaign Medal Streamer (Liberation of Iraq)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  1. ^ By the CNN Wire Staff. "CNN". CNN. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  2. ^ live reporting on CNN 20110322 between 0630 and 0845 CST including interviews with Nic Robertson and Wesley Clark
  3. ^ "Daily Mail ''(retrieved 22 March 2011)''". Dailymail.co.uk. 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 

External links[edit]