26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

caption= 26th MEU Insignia
dates= 1975 - 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 Mark J. Desens
garrison=Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
motto= "A Certain Force in an Uncertain World"
battles= 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

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 2,200 personnel. The MEU consists of four major parts: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element, and a logistics element. Since its establishment in the early 1970s as the 36th 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.


To provide combatant commanders options throughout the Mediterranean region, and beyond. It is a rapid-reaction force capable of conducting multiple and concurrent missions in support of a spectrum of operations, including conventional amphibious warfare operations, humanitarian assistance, mass casualty evacuation operations, and noncombatant evacuation operations. It also has the ability to carry out special operations tasked by the theater commander.

Current Major Subordinate Elements

Ground Combat Element: Battalion Landing Team 2/6

Aviation Combat Element: Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 (Rein)

Logistics Combat Element: Combat Logistics Battalion 26


Early years

In 1975 the 36th MAU 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

The 1990s were a busy time for the 26th MEU. 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 Terror

Following the events of September 11, 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 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 KC-130 and conducted operations until relief by 101st Airborne Division.

The 26th MEU served as the primary tactical unit during operations in support of Joint Task Force Liberia from August to September 2003. 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.

Notable Facts

1995 -- The first MEU to deploy with M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks.

1996 -- The first MEU to deploy with the Joint Task Force Enabler 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 and delivered MEU 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.

Unit awards

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

Navy Unit Commendation with two Bronze Stars

Libya -- 1986

Kosovo -- 1999

Afghanistan -- 2001-2002

Meritorious Unit Commendation with two Bronze Stars

Libya -- 1985-1987

Albania -- 1996-1998

Turkey -- 1999

Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer with one Bronze Star

National Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Star

Kosovo Campaign Streamer with two Bronze Stars

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer

ee also

*List of Marine Expeditionary Units
*List of United States Marine Corps battalions
*List of United States Marine Corps aircraft squadrons
*List of United States Marine Corps logistics groups



:Marine Corps

External links

* [http://www.26meu.usmc.mil/ 26th MEU’s official website]

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