News: 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit returns from deployment
Story by Capt. Robert Shuford
OFF THE COAST OF CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit has returned to the U.S. after completing nearly nine months deployed as an expeditionary crisis response force with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group.
Approximately 2,300 Marines and Sailors of the 24th MEU will be offloading over the next few days from amphibious assault ships USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and USS Gunston Hall, using Navy hovercrafts at Onslow Beach, by flying in with their own aircraft and by using the Morehead City Port facility.
The 24th MEU left in March to serve throughout the U.S. European, Central and Africa Commands where they participated in a number of exercises, theater security cooperation engagements, and remained on alert for a total of approximately 150 days to respond to a number of crises.
“Our Marines and Sailors have done a fantastic job demonstrating what it means to be a forward-deployed, expeditionary force ready to answer the Nation’s call,” said Col. Frank Donovan, commanding officer, 24th MEU.
Their presence throughout the various operating areas provided decision space for combatant commanders and senior leaders knowing the 24th MEU’s Marine Air Ground Task Force was postured and trained to respond to a variety of missions, said Donovan.
The unit was due home in November but was delayed while serving in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility and remained in an alert status in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Delays and changes in deployment timelines are common for MEUs, with the past two East Coast MEUs also participating in extended deployments.
Even after being extended just as they were supposed to be heading home in November, the Marines and Sailors remained focused and ready, explained Donovan.
“Our young Marines and Sailors were true professionals throughout the entire deployment. After notification of our extension they buckled down and pushed forward. They are truly incredible and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Donovan.
Even though they missed Thanksgiving the 24th MEU is returning just in time for the rest of the holiday season, which many of their families are thankful for.
“Our families and friends are absolutely amazing. Their support and dedication on the home front allows us to stay focused on the mission and I cannot thank them enough,” said Donovan.
During the extended deployment the Navy-Marine Corps team participated in a variety of missions, with some of the most significant listed below –
- Served as a ready crisis response force capable of missions such as embassy reinforcement, evacuation operations, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance and full-scale combat.
- Participated in Exercise African Lion 12 in Morocco, the largest bilateral training exercise in U.S. Africa Command.
- Participated in Exercise Eager Lion 12 in Jordan, the largest multi-lateral training exercise in U.S. Central Command.
- Participated in bilateral training with French military in Djibouti.
- Initiated Traveling Contact Teams that provided training cadres to support training missions in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda with host nation militaries.
- Established partnerships with Jordanian Marines in southern Jordan that lead to creating an Advanced Force Base where Marines trained with Jordanians in austere, rugged environments.
- Hosted distinguished visitor receptions aboard ship for senior U.S. and foreign civilian and military leaders in Spain, Morocco, Albania, Italy, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
- Sustainment training in Kuwait that consisted of a variety of live-fire ranges with various weapons systems.
- Small unit infantry leader training in the desert mountains of Djibouti.
- This was the first operational deployment for the amphibious assault ship USS New York.
The various units of 24th MEU will be returning to Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, which are all in eastern N.C.
The 24th MEU is made up of the following major elements: 24th MEU Command Element; Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Combat Logistics Battalion 24; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced).
More information about a Marine Expeditionary Unit is below.
To gather more information and imagery/b-roll about these events and more from 24th MEU’s deployment please visit –
If Media are interested in covering offload and homecoming events contact the following:
Points of Contact and RSVP info: Respond to all of the following POC’s listed below –
Capt Robert Shuford – 24th MEU Public Affairs Officer
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone - After 8 a.m. on Dec. 16 – 910-467-3324
Capt Binford Strickland – II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Officer
Email - Binford.email@example.com
Phone - 910-451-7200
2ndLt Joshua Larson – 24th MEU Public Affairs Officer
Email - Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sgt. Richard Blumenstein
Background Information on Marine Expeditionary Units
Since its beginning in 1775, the United States Marine Corps has deployed forces aboard U.S. Naval shipping with the ability to move ashore with sufficient sustainability for prolonged operations to respond to a variety of missions, from full-scale combat to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. These forces have been organized into Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) - a combination of air, ground, and support assets. MAGTFs are established for specific missions, or in anticipation of a wide range of possible missions. Combining air, ground, and logistic assets maximizes the combat power of each of the war fighting elements.
MAGTFs have long provided the United States with a broad spectrum of crisis response options when U.S. and allied interests have been threatened and in non-combat situations which require instant response. Selective, timely and credible commitment of air-ground units have, on many occasions, helped bring stability to a region and sent signals worldwide to aggressors that the United States is willing to defend its interests, and is able to do so with a significantly powerful force on extremely short notice.
The Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the smallest of the MAGTFs and is comprised of about 2,300 Marines and Sailors. The MEU's major elements are the Command Element (CE), the Ground Combat Element (GCE), the Aviation Combat Element (ACE), and the Logistics Combat Element (LCE).
The CE is comprised of the commanding officer and supporting staff - about 300 Marines and Sailors. It provides the overall command and control essential for effective planning and execution of operations and synchronizes the actions of each element within the MEU. Skill sets falling under the command element include administration, intelligence, operations, logistics and embarkation, communications, legal and public affairs.
The GCE, about 1,200 strong, is built around an infantry battalion and provides the overland combat power and preponderance of the force for the MEU. Assets inherent within the standard infantry battalion include medium and heavy machine guns, mortars, combined anti-armor teams (CAAT) and scout snipers. While assigned to the MEU, the unit is designated as a Battalion Landing Team (BLT), reinforced with light armored reconnaissance vehicles (LAV), tanks, artillery, combat engineers and assault amphibian vehicles (AAV).
The ACE is a composite squadron that provides the MEU medium to heavy lift capability, assault support and close air support (CAS). Its assets include MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters, AH-1 Super Cobra helicopter gunships, UH-1 Huey utility helicopters and AV-8B Harrier jump jets. With a force strength of approximately 500, the ACE includes air traffic control, aircraft maintenance/support and aviation logistics/supply capabilities.
The LCE, about 3000 Marines and Sailors strong, provides combat support such as supply; maintenance; transportation; explosive ordnance disposal; military police; water production and distribution; engineering; medical and dental services; fuel storage and distribution; and other services to the deployed MEU. The LCE gives the MEU the ability to support itself without external support in austere expeditionary environments.
These forces deploy aboard three U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships called an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) that allow this expeditionary crisis response force to maneuver as a Navy-Marine Corps team anywhere in the world to project force where needed.