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Marine Expeditionary Units
(Special Operations Capable)


When they say "Send in the Marines," a Marine Expeditionary Unit is usually the first on scene.

What is a MEU?

America's small, unique, powerful force in readiness

With a strength of about 2,200 personnel, the MEU is normally built around a reinforced battalion, a composite aircraft squadron, and by a MEU Service Support group.

Commanded by a colonel, the MEU is employed to fulfill routine forward deployments with fleets in the Mediterranean, the Western Pacific, and periodically, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The MEU is deployed on up to four Naval amphibious ships.

The ground combat element (GCE) is the battalion landing team (BLT), an infantry battalion reinforced with artillery, amphibious assault vehicles, light armored reconnaissance assets and other units as the mission and circumstances require.

The aviation combat element (ACE) is a Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron augmented with four types of helicopters into a composite squadron. These units include CH-53E "Super Stallions," CH-46E "Sea Knights," UH-1N "Hueys," and AH-1W "Super Cobras." Ace assets may also include the fixed-wing aircraft such as the AV-8B "Harrier" jet.

The combat service support element is the MEU Service Support Group (MSSG) formed primarily from force service support groups assets. The MSSG contains all the logistics specialists necessary to keep the GCE, ACE and organic equipment functioning. Included within the MSSG are medical, dental, maintenance, engineering, and other technical experts.

The command element (CE) provides command and control of the other three elements. In addition to the MEU commander and his supporting staff, the CE includes specialized detachments providing a direct action capability, naval gunfire liaison capability, reconnaissance, and surveillance and specialized communications and electronics warfare capabilities.

The MEU is unique in that its air and ground combat elements are combined with combat service support under one commander.

This air/ground task force concept is designed to thoroughly exploit the combat power inherent in air and ground assets by closely integrating them into a single force. The MEU brings all the supplies it needs to sustain itself for quick mission accomplishment or to pave the way for any follow-on forces.

The MEU is an expeditionary intervention force with the ability to rapidly organize for combat operations in virtually any environment.

Listing of Marine MEUs

U.S. Military

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Information and Graphics Courtesy of United States Marine Corps

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