2d Marine Division
The 2d Marine Division is the ground combat element of II MEF. Its backbone is the individual Marine infantryman whose basic mission is to locate, close with, attack and destroy, or capture the enemy. The Division is comprised of more than 15,000 enlisted Marines and Sailors and 1,000 officers who form the 2d, 6th and 8th Marine Regiments (infantry), 10th Marine Regiment (artillery), 2d Tank Battalion, 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Combat Engineer Battalion, Headquarters Battalion, 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion and 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
Operations tempo (Optempo), the amount of time Marines are in the field training or away on deployments, is a constant concern. It impacts on readiness and the retention of the force. On any day in the Second Marine Division, five of the nine infantry battalions are either forward deployed or preparing to deploy: three battalions are assigned to MEUs, one is on unit deployment to Okinawa and a fifth battalion is tasked with sourcing company sized commitments to Panama, Haiti and to a South American training deployment, UNITAS. Of the four remaining battalions, one is always assigned the Air Contingency Battalion mission, while the other three pursue an active training program.
The origins of this division lay in the activation of the 2d Marine Brigade as part of the Fleet Marine Force on 1 July 1936. A year later the brigade deployed to Shanghai, China, returning in 1938 to San Diego, California. On 1 February 1941, the unit was redesignated as the 2d Marine Division. Its component regiments, the 2d, 6th, 8th, and 10th Marines, brought with them impressive histories of service in Vera Cruz (Mexico), World War I in France, and the Caribbean. In World War II, elements of the division served in Iceland, in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and on Samoa, then the full division in the Guadalcanal campaign, followed by the bloody assault of Tarawa for which it was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, and on to Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa.
Division units began regular deployments to the Mediterranean as landing forces for the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The units have also deployed to Korea as replacements during the Korean War and to the Middle East to evacuate Americans and to prevent civil war during the Mideast crisis. The 2d Marine Division provided forces for the multinational peacekeeping effort in Beirut and for Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, Operation Just Cause in Panama, and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf.
In the liberation of Kuwait, the 2d Marine Division attacked approximately 25 kilometers to the northwest of the 1st Marine Division. Under the original concept of operations, the 2d Marine Division intended to follow the 1st Marine Division through their breaching lanes. However, early analysis and walk-throughs convinced everyone that this plan would not allow the speed required for the operation nor would it minimize the exposure to enemy fire. Consequently, the 2d Marine Division's orders were changed to allow it to attack at this separate location to breach the minefield more rapidly and to generate the maximum offensive operational momentum. In this way, the 2d Marine Division could apply concentrated forces at the decisive point of attack, and "to continue rapidly forward to seize division and MEF [Marine Expeditionary Force] objectives."
The 2d Marine Division provided forces for multinational peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Liberia. The 2d Marine Division - the "Follow Me Division" - is combat ready and an integral part of America's force in readiness.
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