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Expeditionary History



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Other Expeditionary Units

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West Coast MEUS
Camp Pendleton, CA
11th MEU
13th MEU
15th MEU

East Coast MEUS
Camp Lejeune, NC
22nd MEU
24th MEU
26th MEU

Overseas MEU
Okinawa, Japan
31st MEU


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Prepared for the Larger Conflicts

Capable of specializing for the unique conflict




Marine Expeditionary Units are the smaller and most visible example of the Marine-Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Concept.  A MAGTF is the Marine Corps Combined-Arms, self-sustaining concept for military operations.  By combining air elements, ground combat elements and logistical support elements under one command element, the individual elements together become a force-multiplier and effective, powerful force unlike any force in the world.   Because all of these elements are indigenous to the Marine Corps, the MAGTF Force trains together, works together and deploys rapidly together as one force.

Scalable, flexible, responsive Marine Air-Ground Task Forces. The basic types of MAGTFs are:  

The largest and most robust MAGTF is a Marine Expeditionary Force.  Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEFs) are task-organized forces designed to fight and win our Nation's battles in conflicts up to and including major theater war.  Commanded by a 3-Star General Officer, a MEF is comprised of one or more full Marine Aircraft Wings, one or more Force Service Support Groups and one or more complete Infantry Divisions.  Uniquely, a MEF can be tailored to any size dependent upon the mission, but usually a MEF accounts for approximately 20,000 to 90,000 Marines with an average of around 40,000 men and women.  MEF's are the cradle for embedded MEB's and deploying MEU's, capable of enabling or leading of a Joint or multinational force and have a sustainment of approximately 60 days.  Marine Expeditionary Forces are the proud hammer of the Marine Corps and are major warfighting elements of all operation war plans.  A MEF consists of:

  • Command element plus command, control and reconnaissance/surveillance assets
  • Division: 18,000… 3 infantry regiments (9 infantry batallions), 1 artillery regiment (4 artillery batallions), 1 tank batallion, 1 LAR batallion, 1 amphibious assault batallion, 1 combat engineer batallion
  • Wing: 15,000… approximately 300 aircraft
  • FSSG: 9,000… military police, supply, maintenance, engineering, health services and transportation assets

Marine Expeditionary Brigades (MEBs) are task-organized to respond to a full range of crises, from forcible entry to humanitarian assistance. They are our premier response force for the small-scale contingencies that are so prevalent in today’s security environment.  The Marine Corps has three numbered MEB's, one within each MEF with the capability to deploy the MEB's in several waysSimilar to a MEU, a MEB deploys on 15 amphibious ships of which 5 are large deck ships such as LHA or LHD ships and has a 30 day sustainment.  The MEB consists of

  • Command Element sourced from the parent MEF staff with the Deputy MEF Commander as the MEB Commander. Ready to enable a Joint task Force or form a nucleus to enable introduction of follow on  forces.
  • Ground Combat Element built on an infantry regiment
  • Aviation Combat Element consisting of a composite Marine Air Group capable of conducting all (6) functions of Marine aviation including Offensive Air Support, Assault Support, Electronic Warfare, Control of Aircraft and Missiles, Antiair Warfare, Air Reconnaissance.
  • Brigade Service Support Group (BSSG) for the Combat Service Support Element or CSSE, which can logistically  support a community of 30,000 Marines and Sailors.

Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)s) are task-organized to provide a forward deployed presence to promote peace and stability and are often the Marine Corps’ first-on-the-scene forceEach MEF deploys a 2,500-man MEU (SOC), embarked aboard a three to ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), to operate in the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans continuously. These MEU(SOC)'s provide the National Command Authority and Unified Commanders-in-Chief's (CINC's) with forward deployed, sea-based, multi-purpose Marine forces. These forces are uniquely poised to provide CINCs with a variety of quick reaction crisis response options.  MEU's act as a Joint Task Force Enabler to enable Joint or Combined Multi-National force follow-on operations in an Area of Operation.

Special Purpose MAGTFs (SPMAGTFs) are task-organized to accomplish specific missions, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacetime engagement activities, or regionally focused exercises.

MAGTFs, along with other Marine Corps unique forces, such as Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FASTs) and the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), represent a continuum of response capabilities tethered to national, CINC, and naval requirements.

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