CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element acquired its three additional elements in order to become a complete Marine Air-Ground Task Force, 2,200 Marines and sailors strong, Sept. 7.
The four main elements of a MAGTF are the command element, ground combat element, aviation combat element, and logistics combat element.
Lead by Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer and Baltimore native, the Marines of Battalion Landing Team 3/2, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 Reinforced, Combat Logistics Battalion 26, and the command element are now starting their six-month work up prior to deploying in 2013.
After being sufficiently trained during a rigorous 26-week pre-deployment training program, the MAGTF will embark aboard the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), USS San Antonio (LPD 17), and the USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) that makes up the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group lead by Amphibious Squadron Four for their deployment. The ARG and MAGTF together form a forward-deployed, rapid-response team trained to handle worldwide crisis situations.
Originally created April 24, 1967, the 26th MEU has set many milestones in U.S. history. In 1975 they were the first force to take armed forces ashore in Germany since World War I. In 1995 they became the first MEU to deploy with M-1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and later on became the first MEU to deploy with the Marine Special Operations Command. Later in 2001, the MEU was among the first U.S. forces in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. More recently in 2010, they became the first MEU to execute every type of training they prepared for on a single deployment and provided support to Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn in 2011 by conducting air strikes on Mummar al-Qadaffi, Libya’s former leader, and his regime.
The 26th MEU will soon start its pre-deployment training program at Fort Pickett, Va., to prepare for its future endeavors.