Time in the MEU can be broken into three different periods: pre-deployment, deployment and post deployment
Training during the six-month work-up period is often referred to as "crawl, walk, run."
The 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 the following areas:
Amphibious Operations, Mechanized and Helicopter-borne Raids, Noncombatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance, and Urban Operations.
Exercises conducted during the work-up period include:
PHIBRON-MEU Integration Training (PMINT), ARG-MEU Exercise (ARGMEUEX), and the final certification exercise, Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).
Phase One: Initial Collective Training Phase
-Rapid Response Planning Process (R2P2)
-Individual and small unit skills training
Phase Two: Intermediate Training Phase
-PHIBRON-MEU Integration Exercise
-Company-level skills, command and control
Phase Three: Final Training Phase
-Battalion-level,MEU-combined arms integration
-Composite Training Unit Exercise
Following the work-up, the MEU deploys for seven-to-eight months to U.S. European and Central Commands' areas of responsibility. During this time, the MEU is a forward-deployed, self-sustaining force that the combatant commanders can direct to accomplish a variety of special operations and conventional missions in their areas of responsibility. The missions may include:
* Conventional Operations (Amphibious Assaults and Raids)
* Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP)
* Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief (HA/DR)
* Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)
* Security Operations
* Peace Enforcement
* Reconnaissance and Surveillance
* Airfield/Port Seizure
There are seven MEUs in the Marine Corps, three on each coast of the United States and one in Okinawa, Japan. The East Coast MEUs maintain a near-constant presence in the Mediterranean region. Each MEU follows a similar work-up/deployment cycle.
The post-deployment phase typically lasts for a couple months after the MEU returns to Camp Lejeune. Even though the MEU has redeployed back to the United States, it remains composited until the next MEU is fully operationally ready to assume the duties within their assigned area of operaitons. Once the MEU has officially been decomposited and the infantry battalion goes back to the Marine Division, the composite squadron aircraft and crews return to their original squadrons and Marine Aircraft Wing, and Combat Logistics Battalion 26 will return to the Marine Logistics Group heirarchy. The Command Element remains as a command element, planning for future deployments, and standing-by to act as a headquarters element for any Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF), fully scalable, and capable of a variety of missions across the range of military operations.