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24th Marine Expeditionary Unit
24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Insignia
Active May 1982 - present
Country United States
Branch U.S. Marine Corps
Type Special Operations Capable - Marine Air Ground Task Force
Role Forward-deployed, rapid-response force
Size 2,200
Part of II Marine Expeditionary Force
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Nickname(s) 24th MEU
Engagements Multinational Force in Lebanon
*1983 Beirut barracks bombing
Operation Iraqi Freedom
*2003 Invasion of Iraq
Operation Enduring Freedom
Colonel Francis L. Donovan

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) is one of seven Marine Expeditionary Units currently in existence in the United States Marine Corps. The Marine Expeditionary Unit is a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) with a strength of about 2,200 personnel. The MEU consists of a command element, a reinforced infantry battalion, a composite helicopter squadron and an MEU service support group. The 24th MEU is currently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.


Provide geographic combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime special operations at night or under adverse weather conditions from the sea, by surface and/or by air while under communications and electronics restrictions.

Current subordinate units


Early years

What is today the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was activated at various times as the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) to participate in exercises and operations in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean.

In May 1982, it was redesignated the 24th MAU and served twice as part of the multinational peace-keeping force in Lebanon (October 1982 through February 1983, and May through November 1983). The 24th MAU lost 221 in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.

It continued to make routine six-month deployments to the Mediterranean during the next six years while also providing forces for operations in the Persian Gulf.

The 24th MAU was redesignated the 24th MEU in February 1988.


On 16 April 1991, following Operation Desert Storm, elements of the 24th MEU, along with other U.S. and allied forces, were mobilized to complete a mission of mercy on behalf of the Kurdish people in Turkey and northern Iraq. During Operation Provide Comfort, the MEU delivered food, supplies and medicine and transported Kurds to "safe havens" and temporary tent cities.

The 24th MEU took part in Operation Restore Hope and Operation Continue Hope, in Somalia during March and April 1994. The MEU furthered its mission by providing humanitarian aid to the Somalis by transporting much needed food and aid to many remote areas of the country.

The MEU then turned eastward, entering the Adriatic Sea, where from May to June 1994, it served in support of Operation Provide Promise and Operation Deny Flight in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Immediately upon returning from its six-month deployment, the 24th MEU redeployed to the waters of the Caribbean, off the coast of Haiti. The MEU served there from July to August 1994 as part of Operation Support Democracy.

In June 1995, elements of the 24th MEU launched a daring, daylight Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel mission to rescue Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady, who had been shot down over Bosnia and Herzegovina six days earlier.

In 1996, the MEU served as a contingency force in the Adriatic Sea in support of Operation Decisive Endeavor. Near the end of October 1996, units from the MEU assisted U.S. Army and allied engineers with the construction of a bridge across the Drina River in Bosnia.

In March 1998, the MEU conducted 34 battlefield air interdiction missions as part of the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia, attacking with its AV-8B Harrier IIs from the Adriatic Sea. Also during 1998, the MEU was diverted from its regular deployment schedule to provide a forward presence in the Persian Gulf as the United States 5th Fleet landing force in support of Operation Desert Thunder. In addition, the MEU used its aviation assets to enforce the Iraqi no-fly-zone in support of Operation Southern Watch.

During November and December 1998, Marines from the 24th MEU were called upon to provide security for the American embassy in Tirana, Albania.

From 1999 to 2001, the 24th MEU participated in numerous multinational military exercises and conducted peace support operations in Kosovo.

Global War on Terror

In August 2002, the 24th MEU departed Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. During its nine-month deployment, the MEU participated in Operation Dynamic Response in Kosovo and Operation Iraqi Freedom before returning home in May 2003.

In July 2004, the MEU departed for Iraq again. The deployment marked the first time in recent history that an MEU did not deploy as part of an Amphibious Ready Group. Arriving in Iraq by plane and cargo ships, the MEU served as part of the 1st Marine Division. The MEU was responsible for stability and security in northern Babil and southern Baghdad provinces, reported safe havens for insurgents. The 24th MEU also helped secure the "Triangle of Death" for the first free Iraqi elections.

On 18 July 2006, it was announced that the MEU, along with the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, would be directed to Lebanon, to assist in the evacuation of U.S. nationals in Lebanon. U.S. nationals had become trapped in Lebanon, following a series of Israeli strikes which made the Beirut International Airport nonoperational, and similarly destroyed a number of major roads out of the country.

In February 2008, the 24th MEU began deploying its Marines to Kandahar, Afghanistan. They began their combat operations in April 2008. Marines of the 24th MEU flooded into the Taliban-held town of Garmsir 29 April 2008, in Helmand province, in the first major American operation in the region in years. By 1 June 2008, the Taliban were pushed out of Garmser.[1] By mid-July, after a month and a half of heavy combat, the Marines were reporting that they had killed over 400 Taliban fighters in the Garmser area.[2]

As the war in Afghanistan shifts from the expulsion of the Taliban to the stabilization of the country, the role for the MEU also shifts to a mission of winning hearts and minds. This involves close coordination with local Afghan leaders and roles as peace makers instead of just soldiers.[3]

2010 Haiti earthquake

After the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake on 12 January, the 24th MEU was diverted from its scheduled Middle East deployment to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to Haiti,[4] as part of Operation Unified Response. Having sailed from its homeport Naval Station Norfolk on the 18th, the USS Nassau's amphibious ready group (which includes the Nassau, USS Mesa Verde, and USS Ashland[5]) was diverted on 20 January, bringing with it the first V-22 Ospreys to be used for a humanitarian mission.[5] On the 23rd, it joined the 22nd MEU, which departed Camp Lejuene on 15 January with the USS Bataan ARG[6] and remained until it was ordered to depart for its original deployment on 8 February.[7]

2012 Deployment as Expeditionary Crisis Response Force

From 27 March to 20 Dec 2012, the 24th MEU deployed as an expeditionary crisis response force and theater reserve with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, which consisted of the amphibious assault ships USS Iwo Jima, USS New York, and USS Gunston Hall. They sailed throughout the Navy’s 5th Fleet and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, conducting training operations and planning for real-world crisis response. The MEU took part in two major multilateral events; Exercise African Lion 12 in Morocco and Exercise Eager Lion 12 in Jordan. The majority of the MEU also conducted extensive training packages in Kuwait and Djibouti, Africa, while smaller Travelling Contact Teams dispersed throughout Africa to share experiences with militaries in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. The MEU was scheduled to return from deployment around Thanksgiving but was extended until the middle of December in order to support potential crisis response missions.

Exercise African Lion 12

African Lion 12 was the first operational event for the 24th MEU. It took place from 7–18 April 2012 and focused on the sharing of tactics, procedures, and cultures between each military. The 24th MEU was involved in several significant events with the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, including an amphibious raid,[8] and an intensive intelligence workshop,[9] which included instruction and a demonstration of an RQ-11B Raven, one of the 24th MEU's organic unmanned aerial systems.[10] On 11 April 2012, a 24th MEU MV-22B Osprey crashed near Agadir, Morocco while training during African Lion. Cpls. Robby Reyes and Derek Kerns, both from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced) were killed and two others seriously injured.[11] A Marine Corps investigation concluded that pilot error was the cause of the accident.[12]

Exercise Eager Lion 12

Col. Frank Donovan, 24th MEU commander, talks with Thamer Alfaiez, the governor of Aqaba City, Jordan, during Exercise Eager Lion 12.

From 8–30 May 2012, the 24th MEU took part in Exercise Eager Lion 12, the largest recurring, annual exercise in U.S. Central Command, designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships through a joint, whole-of-government, multinational approach. Eager Lion 12 consisted of over 11,000 personnel from 19 countries.[13] The 24th MEU took part in a vast range of events including a simulated non-combatant evacuation operation and scenario-based training between the 24th MEU's CBRN defense team and Jordan's incident response force. The MEU's Battalion Landing Team, organized around 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines worked alongside Lebanese, Italian, and Saudi Arabian Forces while the MEU's air combat element, VMM-261, flew partnered flights alongside Jordanian pilots.[14]

Expeditionary Crisis Response Force

The last half of the 24th MEU's 2012 deployment focused on their duties as an expeditionary crisis response force. After the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, the MEU began extensive planning for potential missions to aid and/or evacuate U.S. citizens throughout the region in a number of countries that included Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Syria and Pakistan. The threat of regional unrest resulted in an extension in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility. The MEU was later extended in November to continue serving as a ready, crisis response force throughout the Mediterranean region in 6th Fleet. This second extension led to the MEU returning home a month later than originally scheduled. They returned to North Carolina on 20 December 2012[15]

The 24th MEU's inherent task organization and flexibility allowed them to adapt to an ever-changing security environment and generate concurrent mission plans. The MEU/ARG even prepared to conduct disaggregated operations so the ships and staffs could be separated physically but still execute missions with "Alpha" and "Bravo" command and control elements, therefore maximizing efficiency and economy of MEU organic assets.

The crisis response mission was the hallmark of the 24th MEU deployment.[16] The MEU commander, Colonel Francis L. Donovan, spent his post-deployment months briefing military and civilian leaders—including members of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Congress, Department of the Navy, and Headquarters of the Marine Corps— about the capabilities of the Marine Expeditionary Unit as America's premier crisis response force. During more than 30 separate briefings, Donovan presented details that explained how a MEU is best organized to take on crisis response missions, especially now that physical distance is no longer a serious limiting factor since MEUs have the extended range advantage of MV-22B Ospreys and the refueling assets of KC-130J Hercules, both aircraft organic to a MEU.

Unit awards

A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. The 24th MEU has been presented with the following awards:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 1 oak leaf Navy Unit Commendation w/ 5 service stars Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 3 service star
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal w/ 3 service stars
Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 1 service star Kosovo Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  1. "U.S. Marines launch Afghan operation". CNN. [dead link]
  2. "US Marines "kill 400 Taliban" in Afghan operation". Reuters. 9 July 2008. 
  3. "Afghanistan: The Forgotten War". NOW on PBS. 
  4. Ewing, Philip (20 January 2010). "Nassau ARG, 24th MEU, tapped for Haiti". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Talton, Trista (20 January 2010). "24th MEU joining Haiti relief effort". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  6. Faram, Mark D. (19 January 2010). "Bataan ARG to begin arriving in Haiti today". Navy Times. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  7. Lamothe, Dan (Monday 8 February 2010 19:13:42 EST). "24th MEU, Nassau ARG complete Haiti work". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  8. Fisher III, Robert L. (16 April 2012) "Moroccans join 24th MEU for Amphibious ‘Day at the Beach’ during African Lion 12" [1]
  9. Bonham, Nichole. (7 April 2012) "US and Moroccan intel analysts exchange ideas during African Lion 12" [2]
  10. Larson, Joshua W. (14 April 2012) "24th Marine Expeditionary Unit 'Raven' flies the skies of Morocco" [3]
  11. U.S. Navy 6th Fleet (11 April 2012) "MV-22 Osprey crashes during military exercise" [4]
  12. Whittle, Richard. (August 16, 2012) "Marines Find Pilot Errors Caused Fatal V-22 Morocco Crash" [5] AOL Defense.
  13. Larson, Joshua W. (8 May 2012) "U.S. Marines, Jordanian leaders gather to prepare for Eager Lion 12" [6]
  14. Larson, Joshua W. (6 June 2012) "24th Marine Expeditionary Unit wraps up Eager Lion 12" [7]
  15. Shuford, Robert E. (16 Dec. 2012) "24th Marine Expeditionary Unit returns from deployment" [8]
  16. Fisher III, Robert L. (5 Feb. 2013) "Marine crisis response force deactivates after extended deployment" [9]

External links

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