For more than 50 years, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable) has provided combatant commanders throughout the Mediterranean, Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia region a forward presence, highly adaptive, crisis response Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) capable of operations across the spectrum of conflict. Since its birth, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) has has conducted various deployments and participated in numerous contingency operations and training exercises alongside allies and partners.
April 24, 1967 -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) activated for a short mission, which was the norm during this period. It was quickly deactivated on October 20, 1967.
June-December 1969 -- The 26th MEU reactivated as the 36th Marine Expeditionary Unit to participate in Exercise Landing Force Caribbean 3-69 (LANFORCARIB 3-69).
May-December 1975 -- The MEUs were renamed Marine Amphibious Units (MAU). 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 -- The unit was redesignated as 26th Marine Amphibious Unit.
1985 -- Rotation cycle of three MAUs on the East Coast is initiated.
1985 -- The 26th MAU becomes first unit to undergo "Special Operations Capable" training and earn the MEU(SOC) qualification.
1985 -- The 26th MAU becomes first unit to have AV8-B Harriers attached.
1988 -- All Marine Amphibious Units are redesignated to Marine Expeditionary Units.
1991 -- The 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 -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit participates in Operations PROVIDE PROMISE, DENY FLIGHT and SHARP GUARD off the coast of Yugoslavia.
1994 -- The 26th MEU participates in ceremonies marking the 50th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.
1994 -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit supports Operation RESTORE HOPE off the coast of Somalia and participates in continuing operations in Bosnia.
1995 -- The 26th MEU becomes the first MEU to deploy with M-1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks.
1996 -- The 26th MEU becomes the first MEU to deploy with the Joint Task Force Enabler communications package.
1997 -- The 26th MEU launches Operation SILVER WAKE, evacuating American citizens and Third Country Nationals from Albania.
1997 -- The 26th MEU participates in Operation GUARDIAN RETRIEVAL, the staging of forces in Congo for a possible evacuation of Zaire.
1998 -- The 26th MEU serves as the Headquarters for the Strategic Reserve Force (SRF) 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 -- The 26th MEU participates in Determined Falcon, the one-day NATO aerial show-of-force in Kosovo.
April-May 1999 -- The 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 -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit 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 -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit participates in Operation AVID RESPONSE, providing Humanitarian Assistance to the people of Western Turkey left homeless by a devastating earthquake.
September 1999 -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit 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 Marine Expeditionary Unit 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.