24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

caption= 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Insignia
dates=May, 1982 - present
country=United States
type= Special Operations Capable - Marine Air Ground Task Force
role= Forward-deployed, rapid-response force
size= 2,200
command_structure= II Marine Expeditionary Force
current_commander=Colonel Peter Petronzio
garrison=Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
nickname= 24th MEU
battles= Multinational Force in Lebanon *1983 Beirut barracks bombing Operation Iraqi Freedom *2003 Invasion of Iraq Operation Enduring Freedom

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th 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 (MAGTF) with a strength of about 2,200 personnel. The MEU consists of a command element, a reinforced infantry battalion, a composite helicopter squadron and an MEU service support group. The 24th MEU is currently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.


Provide geographic combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime special operations at night or under adverse weather conditions from the sea, by surface and/or by air while under communications and electronics restrictions.

Current subordinate units

* Ground Combat Element: 1st Battalion 6th Marines
* Aviation Combat Element: HMM-365 (Rein)
* Logistics Combat Element: Combat Logistics Battalion 24


Early years

What is today the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was activated at various times as the 34th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) to participate in exercises and operations in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean.

In May 1982, it was redesignated the 24th MAU and served twice as part of the multinational peace-keeping force in Lebanon (October 1982 through February 1983, and May through November 1983). The 24th MAU lost 221 in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.

It continued to make routine six-month deployments to the Mediterranean during the next six years while also providing forces for operations in the Persian Gulf.

The 24th MAU was redesignated the 24th MEU in February 1988.


On April 16, 1991, following Operation Desert Storm, elements of the 24th MEU, along with other U.S. and allied forces, were mobilized to complete a mission of mercy on behalf of the Kurdish people in Turkey and northern Iraq. During Operation Provide Comfort, the MEU delivered food, supplies and medicine and transported Kurds to “safe havens” and temporary tent cities.

The 24th MEU took part in Operation Restore Hope and Operation Continue Hope, in Somalia during March and April 1993. The MEU furthered its mission by providing humanitarian aid to the Somalis by transporting much needed food and aid to many remote areas of the country.

The MEU then turned eastward, entering the Adriatic Sea, where from May to June 1994, it served in support of Operation Provide Promise and Operation Deny Flight in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Immediately upon returning from its six-month deployment, the 24th MEU redeployed to the waters of the Caribbean, off the coast of Haiti. The MEU served there from July to August 1994 as part of Operation Support Democracy.

In June 1995, elements of the 24th MEU launched a daring, daylight Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel mission to rescue Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady, who had been shot down over Bosnia and Herzegovina six days earlier.

In 1996, the MEU served as a contingency force in the Adriatic Sea in support of Operation Decisive Endeavor. Near the end of October 1996, units from the MEU assisted U.S. Army and allied engineers with the construction of a bridge across the Drina River in Bosnia.

In March 1998, the MEU conducted 34 battlefield air interdiction missions as part of the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia, attacking with its Harrier II|AV-8B Harrier IIs from the Adriatic Sea. Also during 1998, the MEU was diverted from its regular deployment schedule to provide a forward presence in the Persian Gulf as the United States 5th Fleet landing force in support of Operation Desert Thunder. In addition, the MEU used its aviation assets to enforce the Iraqi no-fly-zone in support of Operation Southern Watch.

During November and December 1998, Marines from the 24th MEU were called upon to provide security for the American embassy in Tirana, Albania.

From 1999 to 2001, the 24th MEU participated in numerous multinational military exercises and conducted peace support operations in Kosovo.

Global War on Terror

In August 2002, the 24th MEU departed Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. During its nine-month deployment, the MEU participated in Operation Dynamic Response in Kosovo and Operation Iraqi Freedom before returning home in May 2003.

In July 2004, the MEU departed for Iraq again. The deployment marked the first time in recent history that an MEU did not deploy as part of an Amphibious Ready Group. Arriving in Iraq by plane and cargo ships, the MEU served as part of the 1st Marine Division. The MEU was responsible for stability and security in northern Babil and southern Baghdad provinces, reported safe havens for insurgents. The 24th MEU also helped secure the "Triangle of Death" for the first free Iraqi elections.

On July 18 2006, it was announced that the MEU, along with the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, would be directed to Lebanon, to assist in the evacuation of U.S. nationals in Lebanon. U.S. nationals had become trapped in Lebanon, following a series of Israeli strikes which made the Beirut International Airport nonoperational, and similarly destroyed a number of major roads out of the country.

In February 2008, the 24th MEU began deploying its Marines to Kandahar, Afghanistan. They began their combat operations in April 2008. Marines of the 24th MEU flooded into the Taliban-held town of Garmser April 29 2008 , in Helmand province, in the first major American operation in the region in years. By June 1, 2008, the Taliban were pushed out of Garmser. [cite web |url=http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/04/28/afghan.usmarines.ap/index.html|title=U.S. Marines launch Afghan operation|publisher=CNN] By mid-July, after a month and a half of heavy combat, the Marines were reporting that they had killed over 400 Taliban fighters in the Garmser area. [cite web|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSISL48402|title=US Marines "kill 400 Taliban" in Afghan operation|publisher=Reuters]

As the war in Afghanistan shifts from the expulsion of the Taliban to the stabilization of the country, the role for the MEU also shifts to a mission of winning hearts and minds. This involves close coordination with local Afghan leaders and roles as peace makers instead of just soldiers. Currently, the MEU is in southern Afghanistan securing the Afghan-Pakistani border while also trying to win the support of the Afghan population and helping to restart the local economy. [cite web|url=http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/428/index.html|title=Afghanistan: The Forgotten War|publisher=NOW on PBS]

Unit awards

A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. The 24th MEU has been presented with the following awards:

ee also

*Marine Air-Ground Task Force
*List of Marine Expeditionary Units
*Organization of the United States Marine Corps


;Notes:Marine Corps


* [http://www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/24meu 24th MEU's official website]

External links

* [http://www.beirutveterans.info/ BeirutVeterans.info - Information for and about the Beirut Veteran]
* [http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/428/index.html PBS NOW | Afghanistan: The Forgotten War - (Follows the 24th MEU)]

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