MEUSOC – Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable
The Tip of the Spear
The Marine Expeditionary Unit is a Marine Air Ground Task Force. With a strength of about 2,200 personnel, the MEU consists of a command element, a reinforced infantry battalion, a composite helicopter squadron and a MEU service support group.
The mission of the MEU is to 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.
Commanded by a colonel, the MEU is employed to fulfill routine forward deployments with U.S. Naval Fleets in the Mediterranean, the Western Pacific and periodically, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The MEU is deployed on three or four Naval amphibious ships and can operate in virtually any environment. Deployments typically last six months, though some are extended due to operational needs.
The MEU is unique in that its aviation and ground combat elements are combined with combat service support under one commander. The 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 supplies it needs to sustain itself for quick mission accomplishment or to pave way for follow-on forces.
Some, but not all, of the missions the MEU can undertake while deployed are:
Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)
Tactical Deception Operations
Tactical Recovery of Airplane/Air Personnel (TRAP)
Reconnaissance and Surveillance
Seizure/Recovery of Offshore Energy Facilities
Visit, Board, Search and Seizure of Vessels
Inside a MEUSOC
The owner of MilitarySpot.com served two tours in MEUSOCs on WestPac cruises in the late 1980s. During these tours he spent a year and two months on several ships, including the LHA Tarawa and LHA Peleliu, while traveling to foreign lands such as the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. The next few pages contain images from these tours with the purpose of giving readers an inside look at a MEUSOC deployed to the Western Pacific in the late 1980s. If you have a unique military experience that you would like to share with readers of MilitarySpot.com please contact us.