26th MEU continues tradition of crisis response as USMC celebrates 248th birthday


As the US Marine Corps turns 248, the 26th MEU stands ready to promote the security of the United States, its allies and partners in the air, at sea and on the ground.

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A US Marine assigned to the 26th MEU guards an airfield during simulation of an integrated, multilateral amphibious assault as part of a Spanish bilateral exercise in Rota, Spain, October 2. [US Marine Corps]
A US Marine assigned to the 26th MEU guards an airfield during simulation of an integrated, multilateral amphibious assault as part of a Spanish bilateral exercise in Rota, Spain, October 2. [US Marine Corps]

As the US Marine Corps prepares to celebrate its 248th birthday, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is doing what the service does best -- providing highly adaptive crisis response.

Born in Philadelphia on November 10, 1775, the US Marine Corps was established to provide support for nascent American naval forces during the Revolutionary War.

Eight months later, on July 4, 1776, the United States itself would be founded with the signing of the Declaration of Independence inside the Pennsylvania State House.

The founding of the Marine Corps predating the founding of the nation serves as a stark reminder of the necessity of a strong military to promote the achievement of political aims.

The Marine Corps' history is inextricably linked to the successful creation of the United States. This November, the Marine Corps is celebrating a 248-year-long tradition of defending those who search for freedom.

Meanwhile, with a history spanning five decades, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has worked diligently to provide highly adaptive, crisis response operations to combatant commanders throughout the Mediterranean, Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia.

In October, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed the 26th MEU to depart early from a planned training exercise in Kuwait to deploy into the Red Sea and Mediterranean to increase the United States' deterrence posture in the Middle East.

The 26th MEU stands combat ready to ensure security amid Israel's ongoing war with Hamas.

"The 26th MEU is an adaptable military force composed of infantry, aviation and logistics components, all operating under one command," said Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh in an October press briefing.

"Positioned at sea, the 26th MEU is equipped to execute amphibious missions, respond to crises and engage in limited contingency operations across a spectrum of military scenarios."

A proud history

The 26th MEU serves as a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations.

MAGTFs are combined arms task forces that consist of a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element and a logistics combat element.

The 26th MEU was first activated in April 1967 for a brief deployment.

It was renamed the 26th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) in 1975, and the unit was the first of its kind to undergo Special Operations Capable (SOC) training and earn the qualification.

The SOC designation is indicative of the varied operational capabilities of the unit, including its ability to be integrated with special operations forces.

This past July, the 26th MEU once again received that special designation, a first for the Marine Corps in over a decade.

Leading up to its redesignation, the unit conducted a seven-month long enhanced pre-deployment training.

Since its inception, the 26th MEU has been deployed in conflicts, including Operation Desert Shield in 1991, and in numerous training exercises and contingency operations alongside US allies and strategic partners.

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