MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- With a Marine Expeditionary Unit, the process of workups is a long one. The unit has to take three different units- a reinforced infantry battalion, a reinforced squadron, and a combat logistics battalion- and combine them into a seamless whole, able to complete an incredible array of mission sets that may fall to the MEU to accomplish. The 26th MEU, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., has accomplished this; its 8-month workup period is done.
That’s only a polite way of saying that the unit is beginning its deployment, however.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit began deploying in phases on March 6, 2013, heading to Norfolk, Va., where it will board the ships of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group. Embarked upon the USS Kearsarge, the USS Carter Hall, and the USS San Antonio, the 26th MEU will sail eastward, chasing the dawn into the Mediterranean Sea, where it will begin its deployment. Slated to take part in a number of theater security exercises with friendly nations and militaries, the MEU begins its deployment now.
A MEU deployment varies from other deployments in a variety of ways. Marines will never know exactly where they are, with the constant movement of the ships. Hitting ports and training exercises all over three continents and two hemispheres, the MEU capitalizes on its flexibility to be all over the world at once. The ships of the Kearsarge ARG may or may not operate in concert with each other. This is the same flexibility that’s allowed the MEU to put boots on the ground or birds in the air from Pakistan to Libya to New York in the last three years; to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of the United States in the world at large.
Marines will spend time ashore in foreign ports on liberty, as well as training with militaries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The MEU may also be tasked with contingency operations for natural disasters, similar to their response for Hurricane Sandy, or the flooding in Pakistan in 2010. Marines may also respond to human-made disasters, like their response to Libya’s insurrection and the subsequent overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. The 26th MEU’s versatility is sure to serve the interests abroad of the United States in good stead.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will be deployed through most of 2013. Operating continuously across the globe, the 26th MEU providing the president and unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force. The MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations.