Marine expeditionary unit

From Academic Kids

A Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the smallest combined forces unit in the United States Marine Corps.

The Marine Expeditionary Unit is normally built around a Marine infantry battalion, a composite helicopter squadron, and an MEU Service Support Group. Troop strength is about 2,200, commanded by a colonel.

The MEU is routinely deployed with fleets in the Mediterranean, the Western Pacific, and periodically, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Up to four naval amphibious ships are needed to carry the necessary troops and equipment.



The MEU is unique in that its air and ground combat elements are combined with combat service support under one commander; other services do not unite the command of air and ground forces until much higher command levels (typically theater commands, with a full general in command). Also, the ground combat element combines artillery and light armor at a much lower level than is common in the U.S. Army.

This 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 the supplies it needs to sustain itself for quick mission accomplishment or to pave the way for any follow-up forces.


Ground Combat Element

The Ground Combat Element (GCE) is the battalion landing team, an infantry battalion reinforced with an artillery battery, Amphibious Assault Vehicles, light armored reconnaissance assets, and other units as the mission and circumstances require.

Aviation Combat Element

The Aviation Combat Element (ACE) is a Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron augmented with four types of helicopters into a composite squadron. These units include the following helicopters:

Squadron aircraft may also include fixed-wing aircraft such as the AV-8 Harrier II, but this is not typical.

Combat Service Support Element

The Combat Service Support Element (CSSE) contains all the logistics specialists necessary to operate independently. It includes medical, dental, maintenance, engineering, and other technical experts.

Command Element

The Command Element (CE)—the MEU commander and his supporting staff—provides command and control of the other three elements. It also includes specialized detachments for naval gunfire, reconnaissance, surveillance, specialized communications, and electronic warfare.

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