Photo Information

U.S. Marines assigned to Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), walk their AAVs to their vehicle ramp at Camp Lejeune, N.C., coming home to the United States after an eight month deployment Nov. 3, 2013. The 26th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force returning home from being forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility aboard the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group. They served as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious operations across the full range of military operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael S. Lockett/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Michael S. Lockett

Breaking down the MEU: reinforcements return to parent commands

6 Dec 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Brown

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will decomposite after an eight-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleets areas of responsibility Dec. 6, 2013.

During this stage, the MEU is afforded the opportunity to better assist and prepare its Marines and sailors in the transition from a deployed to a non-deployed environment to.

“Going decomposite is an important part of the process,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Bigley, of the 26th MEU operations section and the anti-terrorism force protection chief. “It allows each unit to focus on specialized training to better support the MEU.”

The reinforcements of the MEU, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, Combat Logistics Battalion 26, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced), come from various organizations in II Marine Expeditionary Force. Each requires different training to keep their skills current and meet annual qualifications in their specialties.

Additionally, upon returning to their parent commands, they’ll share what they learned during their time with the MEU. The decomposition, typically done shortly after a deployment, gives them time to evaluate what they did and helps prepare them for future deployments with a MEU.

Gunnery Sgt. Steven Hunsinger, 26th MEU logistics chief, said, “Historically, the MEU would work on a six-month cycle: deploy six months, decomposite six months and do pre-deployment training for six months.”

This deployment, however, was extended to eight months in order to adapt to mission requirements in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The MEU uses this down time to account for gear and provide personnel with a cool-down period after deployment, according to Hunsinger. “The decomposite gives the Marines and sailors time to recover,” said Bigley. “It ultimately gives them time to evaluate what they learned with their home units and fellow Marines, helping them better understand how a Marine Air-Ground Task Force works, preparing them for the future and improving the Marine Corps as a whole.”

The MEU command element is all that remains after the other elements return to their home units. The command element works as an extension of II MEF until it goes composite and begins preparing for its next deployment.