26th Marine Expeditionary Unit


26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

A Certain Force in an Uncertain World

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
26th MEU History


For more than 40 years, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has provided combatant commanders throughout the Mediterranean, Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia regions a potent, highly adaptive, rapid reaction force capable of conducting multiple and concurrent missions in support of the full range of military operations. Since its establishment in the late 1960s, the MEU has conducted several deployments and participated in numerous contingency operations and training exercises.

April 24, 1967 -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was for a short mission, and quickly deactivated (as was the norm during this period) on Oct. 20, 1967.

June-December 1969 -- The MEU was reactivated as the 36th Marine Expeditionary Unit for Exercise Landing Force Carribean 3-69 (LANFORCARIB 3-69).

May-December 1975 -- MEUs were renamed Marine Amphibious Units (MAU), and the 36th MAU was activated for Exercise Staff Zugel in the Federal Republic of Germany and Exercise Triple Jubilee in the United Kingdom . This marks the first time since World War I that Marines took a combined arms force ashore in Germany.

September 1982 -- Unit redesignated as 26th Marine Amphibious Unit.

1985 -- Rotation cycle of three MAUs on the East Coast is initiated.

1985 -- 26th MAU becomes first unit to undergo "Special Operations Capable" training and earn the MEU(SOC) qualification.

1985 -- 26th MAU becomes first unit to have AV8-B Harriers attached.

1988 -- All Marine Amphibious Units redesignated as Marine Expeditionary Units.

1991 -- 26th MEU supports Operation Desert Shield by providing a "Show of Force" in the Mediterranean, and participates in Operation Sharp Edge, a non-combatant evacuation operation of Liberia.

1992 -- 26th MEU participates in Operations Provide Promise, Deny Flight and Sharp Guard off the coast of Yugoslavia.

1994 -- 26th MEU participates in ceremonies marking the 50th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.

1994 -- 26th MEU supports Operation Restore Hope off the coast of Somalia and participates in continuing operations in Bosnia.

1995 -- 26th MEU becomes the first MEU to deploy with M-1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks.

1996 -- 26th MEU becomes the first MEU to deploy with the Joint Task Force Enabler communications package.

1997 -- 26th MEU launches Operation Silver Wake, evacuating American citizens and Third Country Nationals from Albania.

1997 -- 26th MEU participates in Operation Guardian Retrieval, the staging of forces in Congo for a possible evacuation of Zaire.

1998 -- 26th MEU serves 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.

1998 -- 26th MEU participates in Determined Falcon, the one-day NATO aerial show-of-force in Kosovo.

April-May 1999 -- 26th MEU participates in Operations Noble Anvil and 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.

June-July 1999 -- 26th MEU participates 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 -- 26th MEU participates in Operation Avid Response, providing Humanitarian Assistance to the people of Western Turkey left homeless by a devastating earthquake.

September 1999 -- The 26th MEU participates in Exercises Atlas Hinge in Tunisia and Northern Approach in Turkey.

September 2000 -- The 26th MEU conducted Adriatic presence operations during the election crisis in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 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.

October 2000 -- The 26th MEU supported diplomatic initiatives during unrest in Israel while simultaneous taking part in the NATO exercise Destined Glory 2000.

November 2000 -- The 26th MEU continued to break new ground by the second ever bi-lateral exercise between the Marine Corps and the Croatian Armed Forces, exercise Slunj 2000. During this exercise the 26th MEU's Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment launched the first ever Javelin anti-tank missile fired by a deployed MEU.

November 2001 - February 2002 -- The 26th MEU (SOC) was among the first U.S. Forces into Afghanistan as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and Swift Freedom. MEU (SOC) Marines participated in the 450 mile seizure of Camp Rhino and Kandahar Airport, and constructed a detainment facility that held more than 400 Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists.

March 2003 -- The 26th MEU added to its list of historic operations while afloat in the Mediterranean 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.

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

April-August 2005 -- The 26th MEU conducts exercises and operations in eight countries including Israel, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Iraq and Jordan.

July-August 2005 -- Several hundred Marines and Sailors from the 26th MEU conduct Operation Sea Horse in Iraq, 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 Arabian Gulf, while simultaneously and concurrently conducting training missions in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.

January 2007 - 26th MEU first MEU to deploy with a Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) detachment

September 2008 - Four CH-53 helicopters flew to Al Asad and joined with HMH-462 in support of Operations in Iraq.

September 2008 - March 2009 - 26th MEU participated in several exercises in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emerites and Kuwait.

November 2009 - 26th MEU stood up as Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 to participated in the commissioning of USS New York in New York.

August 2010 -- 26th MEU deployed a month early in response to flooding in Pakistan. While deployed they were the first MEU to ever execute every type of operation that they had trained for. From noncombatant evacuations in Tunisia to supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, 26th MEU reinforced the versatility of the MAGTF while conducting disaggregated operations.

March 20, 2011 -- 26th MEU provided support to Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, which centered on protecting Libyan citizens from further harm from the Libyan leader Mummar al-Qadaffi regime. AV-8B Harriers conducted air strikes against Qadaffi's ground forces and air defenses.

March 22, 2011 -- The MEU successfully completed a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel mission when an US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle crashed due to mechanical failures into the Libyan desert while taking part in Odyssey Dawn.  The pilot and weapons system officer safely ejected, but were split-up upon landing.  Two MV-22B Osprey were sent with a rescue force of Marines and sailors, and with an AV-8B Harrier providing Close Air Support (CAS), rescued the pilot.  The WSO was later picked up by Libyans friendly to the United States.

November 01, 2012 -- The MEU deployed aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) in support of Hurricane Sandy disaster relief efforts in New York and New Jersey. Within 24 hours of being notified, approximately 350 Marines and sailors of the 26th MEU boarded helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft from the MEU's aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 Reinforced, as well as aircraft from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 366 and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 467, and flew to the Wasp, which was already positioned off the coast of New York City. Over the next 10 days, Marines and sailors of the MEU conducted disaster relief operations in New Jersey, Staten Island and Rockaway, N.Y., in support of FEMA, the N.Y. National Guard, and numerous state and local authorities.

March-November, 2013
-- The MEU deployed  to the 5th and 6th Fleets areas of responsibility aboard the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), USS San Antonio (LPD-17) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) with Battalion Landing Team 3/2 as the ground combat elemet, Combat Logistics Battalion 26 as the logistics combat element, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 Reinforced as the aviation combat element. The MEU participated in various multinational and bilatteral exercises throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa in addition to planning for contingency missions and acting as the nation's crisis response force in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. The MEU also participated in multiple diplomatic events with the Department of State.