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26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) Kicks Off Kuwait Bilateral Exercise 3.0
25 Oct 2023

The Marines and Sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (26MEU(SOC)) will participate in a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) training exercise as part of the Kuwait Bi-Lateral Exercise 3.0, enhancing operational readiness and partnerships while deployed to the Middle East region, Oct. 8-22, 2023.

The sustainment training began with the USS Bataan (LHD 5), flagship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), arriving in vicinity of Kuwait to offload elements and equipment necessary for execution via surface connectors and aviation assets.

Kuwait 3.0 follows a series of bilateral, training exercises centered on building partnerships through subject matter expert exchanges, facilitating the exchange of tactics, techniques, and procedures between U.S. and Kuwaiti forces, while also exercising MAGTF core mission essential tasks required to sustain warfighting readiness and the operational capabilities necessary as the premier crisis response force within U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM).

During this exercise, the 26MEU(SOC)’s Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) will conduct a covert, advanced, long-range, maritime reconnaissance mission using combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC) launched over-the-horizon via an autonomous landing craft utility (LCUs) in order to secure a beach for follow-on MAGTF forces within the simulated threat-based scenario. The MSPF will also conduct advanced close quarters combat training, advanced marksmanship training, and military free-fall operations. More so, the MSPF will execute the majority of the training with a Naval Special Warfare element attached to the MSPF showcasing MEU/SOF-integration within USCENTCOM area of responsibility and the partnership with Special Operations Task Force - Central Command.

Marines and Sailors from the Logistics Combat Element and Ground Combat Element will participate in myriad of squad, platoon, and company-level live-fire ranges while the Aviation Combat Element executes close air support utilizing joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC) from across the MAGTF to sustain warfighting readiness.

“Kuwait 3.0 provides the team with a unique opportunity to exercise the full operational capabilities of the ARG/MEU(SOC) and to showcase the ability of the ARG/MEU(SOC) to exploit the asymmetric advantages the sea provides as maneuver space over a notional adversary within a realistic threat-based scenario,” said Colonel Dennis “Dolf” Sampson, Commanding Officer of the 26MEU(SOC). “Short-duration exercises like Kuwait 3.0 are important – they provide the Marines and sailors of the 26MEU(SOC) an opportunity to train to advanced skills in an effort to sustain our crisis response and warfighting readiness; provide an opportunity for the MEU(SOC) MAGTF to conduct amphibious operations coupled with land-based operations; and provide an opportunity to strengthen relationships with regional partners. More so, this exercise comes at an opportune time to truly showcase the relevance and operational capabilities of the 26MEU(SOC) – more specifically, the capacity, staff depth, and competency of the Command Element to C2 the MEU(SOC) in distributed areas across geographic combatant command boundaries – with an element of the 26MEU(SOC) conducting training in Spain and this element simultaneously executing advanced MAGTF training in Kuwait.”

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit has successfully partnered with Kuwaiti forces during two small scale bilateral training exercises so far during this deployment with Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/6 focused on infantry tactics, techniques, and procedures and integrated live-fire training within the Udari range complex. Kuwait 3.0 provides an opportunity to strengthen the long-standing partnership that the MEU(SOC) has built over several years of training alongside Kuwaiti forces on Kuwaiti bases.

The Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is a special-operations capable, Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of approximately 2,400 Marines and Sailors and made up of three major subordinate elements (Ground Combat Element, Air Combat Element, and Logistics Combat Element) with the ability to provide agility in dynamic security environments spanning across multiple geographic combatant command boundaries.

The 26MEU(SOC) serves as one of the United States premier crisis response forces capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on-forces and designated special operations, in support of theater requirements of the Geographic Combatant Commander. Coupled with the USS Bataan ARG, the 26th MEU(SOC) serves as a premier stand-in force with a full complement of all-domain operational capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals and/or the weapons engagement zones of an adversary. The 26MEU(SOC), embarked aboard the ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), serves as the Tri-Geographic Combatant Command Immediate Crisis Response Force within the Fifth and Sixth Fleet’s areas of operation.

The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)), embarked on the USS Bataan and USS Carter Hall, under the command and control of Task Force 51/5, are on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command area of operations, employed by U.S. Fifth Fleet to increase maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.

The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) has been deployed since Jul. 10, 2023. The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, USS Bataan (LHD-5); Harpers Ferry class dock landing ship, USS Carter Hall (LSD 50); and embarked 26MEU(SOC) have been operating in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Fifth Fleet area of operations, providing support to regional and coalition partners. The USS Mesa Verde, assigned to the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, and elements of the 26MEU(SOC), serving under the command and control of Task Force 61/2, are concurrently on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa area of operations, employed by Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., Allied, and Partner interests.