News: The End of One Road, The Beginning of Another
Story by Cpl. Michael Lockett
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – With a Marine Expeditionary Unit, the process of predeployment training can be a tedious 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.
This one unit is able to complete an incredible array of missions that the MEU has to accomplish. The 26th MEU, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., has accomplished this. Its 8-month workup period is done.
That is, however, only a polite way of saying that the unit is beginning its deployment, however.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will be deployed through most of 2013, and will provide 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.
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 (ARG).
An ARG is the three ships, provided by the Navy, that will carry the more than 2,000 Marines and sailors of the MEU and all their equipment and aircraft during the deployment.
Embarked upon the USS Kearsarge, the USS Carter Hall, and the USS San Antonio, the 26th MEU will sail eastward into the Mediterranean Sea, where it will begin its deployment. The MEU is slated to take part in a number of theater security exercises with friendly nations and militaries.
A MEU deployment varies from other deployments in a variety of ways. With the constant movement of the ships, Marines will never be in quite the same place. Stopping at ports and training exercises all over three continents and two hemispheres, the MEU capitalizes on its flexibility to spread its reach across the globe at one time.
The ships of the Kearsarge ARG may or may not operate in concert with each other, depending on operation requirement.
This is the same flexibility that has allowed the MEU to put troops on the ground or aircraft in the sky from Pakistan to Libya to New York in the last three years to be the United States’ middleweight crisis response force capable of operating anywhere in the world.
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 humanitarian operations for natural disasters, similar to their response for Hurricane Sandy, and the flooding in Pakistan in 2010.
Marines may also respond to other crises, like their response to Libya’s insurrection.
The 26th MEU’s versatility is sure to serve the interests abroad of the United States well and efficiently.