Marine expeditionary units (MEU, pronounced "MEE-yoo") are the smallest air-ground task forces (MAGTF) in the United States Fleet Marine Force. Each MEU is an expeditionary quick reaction force, deployed and ready for immediate response to any crisis, whether it be natural disaster or combat missions. Marine amphibious unit (MAU) was the name used until the late 1980s.
An MEU is normally composed of: a reinforced USMC infantry battalion (designated as a Battalion Landing Team) as the ground combat element, a composite medium tiltrotor squadron forming the aviation combat element, a combat logistics battalion providing the logistics combat element, and a company-size command element serving as the MEU headquarters group. Troop strength is about 2,200 members and usually commanded by a colonel, and is deployed from amphibious assault ships. Currently, an MEU embarks men and equipment onto the amphibious warfare ships of an expeditionary strike group (ESG) which also includes escort warships and submarines to protect them from air, surface, and submarine threats. For further protection and strong air support, an ESG is often deployed along with one or more carrier strike groups.
The MEU is unique in that its air and ground combat elements are combined with a logistics combat element under one commander; other services do not unite the command of air and ground forces until much higher command levels.
The MEU's ground combat element also combines artillery, light armor and tanks at a much lower level than was common in the Army until the development of the brigade combat team early in the War on Terror, with a similar concept, the combat command, being utilized in World War II.
This air-ground task force concept is designed to thoroughly exploit the combat power inherent in air and ground assets by closely integrating them into a single force. The MEU brings all the supplies and logistical support it needs to sustain itself for quick mission accomplishment or to pave the way for any follow-up forces. This self-sustainment allows more flexibility in disposition and operations of forces, and allows the MEU to initiate operations sooner and let support catch up later, without having to wait for external logistical support to begin a mission. Deployments on U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships allows MEUs to seabase around the globe, ready for deployment at short notice.
A typical MEU has approximately 2,200 members, including navy sailors. It is equipped with:
|4||M1A1 main battle tank||ground|
|7 to 16||Light Armored Vehicle||ground|
|15||Assault Amphibious Vehicle||ground|
|6||155mm howitzer: M777||ground|
|8||M252 81mm mortar||ground|
|8||BGM-71 Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missile weapon system||ground|
|8||FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile||ground|
|4 to 6||AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters||aviation|
|3||UH-1Y Venom light utility helicopters||aviation|
|12||MV-22A Osprey medium-lift tiltrotor aircraft||aviation|
|4||CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift transport helicopters||aviation|
|6||AV-8B Harrier V/STOL light-attack airplanes||aviation|
|2||KC-130 Hercules aerial re-fueler/transport airplanes
Note: usually maintained in the contiguous United States
|2||Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit||logistics|
|1||LMT 3000 water purification unit||logistics|
|4||Tractor, Rubber Tire, Articulated Steering||logistics|
|2||TX51-19M Rough Terrain Forklift||logistics|
|1||Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement dump truck||logistics|
|4||Mk48 Logistics Vehicle System||logistics|
|7||500 gallon water containers||multiple|
|30||Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement trucks||multiple|
|5||Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack||aviation|
Many types of equipment are, or will soon, undergo a transitory phase as they are replaced. Some examples include the Marine Personnel Carrier replacing the LAV-25, the F-35 Lightning II replacing the AV-8B Harrier, and the CH-53K Super Stallion replacing the CH-53E.
The ground combat element (GCE) is based on the battalion landing team (BLT), an infantry battalion reinforced with an artillery battery, amphibious assault vehicle platoon, combat engineer platoon, light armored reconnaissance company, tank platoon, reconnaissance platoon, and other units as the mission and circumstances require. The total strength is approximately 1,100 members, including navy sailors.
The reconnaissance platoon provides the basic element for the Maritime Special Purpose Force. This force consists of four elements. The assault platoon (a direct action platoon augmented from Force Recon), security (a selected infantry platoon from the battalion landing team), reconnaissance and surveillance assets, and a headquarters section. The total strength is approximately 350 members, including navy sailors.
The aviation combat element (ACE) is a USMC composite squadron (reinforced) composed of a medium tiltrotor squadron augmented with detachments of heavy, light, and attack helicopters, one detachment of amphibious flight-deck-capable jets, and a Marine air control group detachment with tactical air command, air traffic control, direct air support, and anti-aircraft assets, as well as wing headquarters, wing communications, and wing support squadron personnel. Total strength is approximately 600 troops.
The logistics combat element (LCE) (formerly combat service support element or CSSE) is based on the MEU combat logistics battalion (CLB) (formerly MEU service support group or MSSG). It contains all the logistics specialists and equipment necessary for the MEU to support and sustain itself for up to 15 days in an austere expeditionary environment. It includes service support (postal and disbursing), medical, dental, intermediate maintenance, intermediate supply (consumables and secondary reparables), transportation (distribution and landing support), explosive ordnance disposal, utilities production and distribution, bulk fuels, internal communications, and various other technical experts. It consists of approximately 300 members, including navy sailors.
The command element (CE), which includes the MEU commander and his supporting staff, provides command and control over the other three elements. It includes specialized detachments for air naval gunfire liaison, reconnaissance, surveillance, specialized communications, radio reconnaissance (SIGINT), electronic warfare, intelligence and counterintelligence, law enforcement, and public affairs missions. The overall strength is about 200 members, including navy sailors.
Recently, MEUs have been deployed within an expeditionary strike group (ESG) in the Mediterranean, the Western Pacific, and periodically, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. An ESG is typically composed of three amphibious ships that embark the necessary troops and equipment and are escorted by a guided missile cruiser (CG) and guided missile destroyers (DDG) and submarine (SSN) support.
Before the ESG, MEUs were typically deployed as part of an amphibious ready group (ARG).
MEUs maintain their subordinate elements in fifteen month cycles: a nine months stateside (with six set aside for training), and a six-month deployment aboard ship. These cycles ensure that at least two of the seven MEUs are deployed forward at any given time.
Interim or buildup period: Upon completion of a deployment, the MEU remains "special operations capable" for approximately one month, prepared to respond to events around the world. They are not, however, considered a special operations unit by the Department of Defense. The MEU then releases its major subordinate elements (MSEs), retaining only its command element. This period provides the command element a chance to rotate select personnel and begin planning for the addition of newly assigned MSEs and “work-up” training. When the MSEs are received, the MEU begins six months of intense pre-deployment training.
Work-up period: Training during the six-month work-up period is often referred to as "crawl, walk, run". Marines and sailors progress through curriculum and exercises that teach individual, small unit, and unit tactics while integrating the separate MEU elements into a cohesive, flexible, and powerful force. The work-up period includes training in many combat and noncombat skills, to include:
Exercises conducted during the work-up period can include:
Deployment: Following the work-up period, the MEU deploys for six months in support of geographic combatant commanders. During this time, the MEU is a forward-deployed, self-sustaining force that combatant commanders can direct to accomplish a variety of special operations and conventional missions.
The missions may include:
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th 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 a command element, a reinforced infantry battalion, a composite helicopter squadron and a logistics combat element. The 11th MEU is currently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California with headquarters in Camp Del Mar.13th Marine Expeditionary Unit
The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th 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 a command element, a reinforced infantry battalion, a composite aviation squadron and a combat logistics battalion. The 13th MEU is currently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU) is one of seven such units currently in existence in the United States Marine Corps. The Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) 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 a combat logistics battalion. The 15th MEU is currently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit
The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU) is one of seven Marine Expeditionary Units currently in existence in the United States Marine Corps. It is a Marine Air Ground Task Force with a strength of about 2,200 personnel. They are currently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and fall under the command of the II Marine Expeditionary Force. It is the most decorated of the Marine Corps' seven MEUs.24th Marine Expeditionary Unit
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 Ground Combat Element based on a reinforced infantry battalion, an Aviation Combat Element based on a reinforced tiltrotor squadron, and a Logistics Command Element based on a Combat Logistics Battalion. The 24th MEU is currently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Its stated mission is to 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.26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) is one of seven such units currently in existence in the United States Marine Corps. It is a air-ground task force with a strength of about 2,400 personnel when at full strength during a deployment. It 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, it 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 in the U.S. state of North Carolina.2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines (2/1) is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps based out of beautiful Camp Horno on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. Nicknamed "The Professionals," the battalion consists of approximately 1,200 Marines and sailors. Normally they fall under the command of 1st Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division.31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) is one of seven Marine Expeditionary Units 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 Marines and sailors. The 31st MEU consists of a company-sized command element, a battalion landing team (BLT), (an infantry battalion reinforced with artillery, amphibious vehicle and other attachments), a medium tiltrotor squadron (reinforced), (which includes detachments of short take-off, vertical landing airplanes and heavy, light, and attack helicopters), and a combat logistics battalion. The 31st MEU is based at Camp Hansen, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan. The 31st MEU is the only permanently forward-deployed MEU, and provides a flexible and lethal force ready to perform a wide range of military operations as the premier crisis response force in the Indo-Pacific region.Axis of Time
The Axis of Time trilogy is an alternative history series of novels written by Australian journalist and author John Birmingham, from Macmillan Publishing.
The novels deal with the radical alteration of the history of World War II and the socio-historical changes that result when a technologically advanced naval task force from the year 2021 is accidentally transported back through time to 1942.
The early chapters of the first book in the trilogy, Weapons of Choice, are set in the near future.Combat Logistics Battalion 11
Combat Logistics Battalion 11 (CLB-11) is a logistics battalion of the United States Marine Corps. When not deployed they are part of Headquarters Regiment, 1st Marine Logistics Group. The unit is based out of the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and when deployed provides combat logistical support to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th MEU).Combat Logistics Battalion 13
Combat Logistics Battalion 13 (CLB-13) is a logistics battalion of the United States Marine Corps. In garrison, it falls under the command of Combat Logistics Regiment 17 and the 1st Marine Logistics Group; however, when deployed, it forms the logistics combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The battalion is based out of the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.Combat Logistics Battalion 22
Combat Logistics Battalion 22 (CLB-22) is a logistics battalion of the United States Marine Corps. They are part of Combat Logistics Regiment 27 and the 2nd Marine Logistics Group. The unit is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and is in direct support of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU) .Combat Logistics Battalion 26
Combat Logistics Battalion 26 (CLB-26) is a logistics battalion of the United States Marine Corps. They are part of Combat Logistics Regiment 27 and the 2nd Marine Logistics Group. The unit is based out of the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and is in direct support of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) .Expeditionary warfare
Expeditionary warfare is the deployment of a state's military to fight abroad, especially away from established bases. Expeditionary forces were in part the antecedent of the modern concept of rapid deployment forces. Traditionally, expeditionary forces were essentially self-sustaining with an organic logistics capability and with a full array of supporting arms.II Marine Expeditionary Force
The II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force consisting of ground, air and logistics forces capable of projecting offensive combat power ashore while sustaining itself in combat without external assistance for a period of 60 days. The II Marine Expeditionary Force is commanded by a Lieutenant General, who serves under U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, providing Marine fighting formations and units to European Command, Central Command and Southern Command.Landing Helicopter Assault
Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA) is the United States Navy's hull classification symbol for the general purpose helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ships of the Tarawa and America classes.
Their purpose is to project power and maintain presence by serving as the cornerstone of the amphibious ready group or expeditionary strike group. They are used to transport Fleet Marine Force personnel and equipment while operating in a deployed Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) or Marine expeditionary brigade (MEB). They normally travel in Task Forces called Amphibious Ready Groups. These ships and their escorts are capable of anything from military landing operations to humanitarian operations.
These vessels are built with a full flight deck similar in appearance to an aircraft carrier to operate utility and attack helicopters. They can also operate tilt rotor aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey and STOVL aircraft such as the AV-8 Harrier and the F-35B Lightning II.The Tarawa-class LHAs provided the Marine Corps with a means of ship-to-shore movement by helicopter in addition to movement by landing craft. They were the first ships designed to do both things efficiently at same time.
The first two ships of the new America class, LHA-6 and LHA-7, differ from both the older Tarawa-class LHAs and LHDs in that they will have no well deck; LHA-8 and following ships will again include well deck facilities. LHAs that contain a well deck are able to support use of Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) and other watercraft.
Three Tarawa Class LHAs were active during Operations Desert Shield/ Desert Storm. Since then LHAs have participated in US Navy operations as launch platforms for Marine Corps expeditionary forces into Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (2001/2), Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003) and humanitarian support after the Tsunami in 2004. In 2004 LHAs were used to transport Marines and their equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan for combat operations.Marine (book)
Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit is a 1996 book written by Tom Clancy about the inner workings of a Marine Expeditionary Unit.Marine Air-Ground Task Force
Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF, pronounced MAG-TAF) is a term used by the United States Marine Corps to describe the principal organization for all missions across the range of military operations. MAGTFs are a balanced air-ground, combined arms task organization of Marine Corps forces under a single commander that is structured to accomplish a specific mission. The MAGTF was formalized by the publishing of Marine Corps Order 3120.3 in December 1963 "The Marine Corps in the National Defense, MCDP 1-0". It stated:
A Marine air-ground task force with separate air ground headquarters is normally formed for combat operations and training exercises in which substantial combat forces of both Marine aviation and Marine ground units are included in the task organization of participating Marine forces.Since World War II in many crises the United States Marine Corps has deployed projection forces, with the ability to move ashore with sufficient sustainability for prolonged operations. MAGTFs have long provided the United States with a broad spectrum of response options when U.S. and allied interests have been threatened and in non-combat situations which require critical response. Selective, timely and credible commitment of air-ground units has, on many occasions, helped bring stability to a region and sent signals worldwide that the United States is willing to defend its interests, and is able to do so with a powerful force on short notice.Marine expeditionary force
A Marine expeditionary force (MEF), formerly known as a Marine amphibious force, is the largest type of a Marine air-ground task force. A MEF is the largest building block of United States Marine Corps combat power.