I Marine Expeditionary Force
On order, as a warfighting command, I MEF deploys and employs expeditionary ready, air-ground task forces in response to CINC/Component Commander taskings to operate in Joint/Combined Operations, to conduct small scale contingencies and win in combat.
I MEF was activated on 8 November 1969 at Okinawa Japan as the I Marine Amphibious Force. It was relocated in April 1971 to Camp Pendleton, CA. On 5 February 1988 it was redesignated I Marine Expeditionary Force. It participate in numerous training exercises furing the 1970s and 80s. It took part in Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. In December 1992 through April 1991 I MEF participated in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and returned to Somalia for United Shielf in early 1995.
There are three Marine Expeditionary Forces, strategically positioned for global coverage. I MEF, base in southern California at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and III MEF, which is forward deployed on Okinawa, mainland Japan, and Hawaii, fall under the control of the Commander, Marine Forces, Pacific. II MEF, located at bases in North and South Carolina, falls under the control of the Commander, Marine Forces, Atlantic. All three are located near major naval bases and excellent airports, ensuring the rapid deployment of Marine combat power worldwide.
In addition to sourcing smaller MAGTFs (Marine Air Ground Task Force), the MEF is the principle Marine Corps warfighting organization, particularly for a larger crisis or contingency. As a crisis escalates, or the case of a major theater war, smaller MAGTFs and supporting units are deployed until the entire MEF is in place to support the CINC campaign plan.
Normally commanded by a Lieutenant General, a MEF can include one or more divisions in its ground combat element, one or more aircraft wings in its air combat element, and one or more force service support groups in its combat service support element. The command element provides the command and control necessary for effective operational planning and execution.
During the Operation Desert Storm, the 1st and 2d Marine Divisions, the ground maneuver elements of the First Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), were positioned along the northern boundary of Saudi Arabia with the mission to attack north into Kuwait. The I MEF was tasked to breach (clear openings in) two heavily defended minefield belts, advance past Ahmed Al Jaber air base taking key sites along the way, and converge on Kuwait City to liberate the capital. The 1st Marine Division eventually opened 14 lanes; the 2d Marine Division opened six. The 1st Marine Division was made up of units from the 1st Marine, 3d Marine, 7th Marine, and 11th Marine regiments (as well as units of other Marine regiments assigned to the 1st Marine Division). For the conduct of the ground war, the 1st Marine Division was further organized into Task Forces (e.g., Ripper, Papa Bear). The 2d Marine Division was comprised of units of the 6th Marines; the 8th Marines; the 10th Marines; the Army's 1st Brigade, 2d Armored Division; and other supporting Marine units.
By the end of May 2002, all supply sections from units under I Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Base downsized their gear stocks as standard-issue combat gear comes under one roof to offer Marines an experience similar to warehouse grocery shopping. I MEF's consolidated issue facility, Building 2230, a government-owned, civilian-contracted supply point, will take over issuing, tracking, maintaining and recovering individual combat clothing and equipment, also known as 782 gear. The consolidated issue facility is part of a Corps-wide program aimed at saving time and money while providing quality gear to Marines and sailors. The II MEF's CIF, in Camp Lejeune, N.C., has been in operation for two years.
On 18 October 2002 it was announced that the I Marine Expeditionary Force, which could serve as a ground vanguard in any strike against Iraq, would soon move most of their headquarters to Kuwait. The 1st MEF, a Marine Corps equivalent of an Army corps, loaded the sealift ship USNS Bellatrix, which was due to sail from San Diego. Marine officials declined comment about numbers and itineraries. They said the expeditionary force received the deployment order about a month earlier. The headquarters was to take part in Central Command's Exercise Internal Look. In November 2002, CENTCOM will deploy a 600-man headquarters to Qatar. The exercise was slated to run for three weeks.
Reports from Reuters and other sources on January 3, 2003 confirmed that units from the I Marine Expeditionary Force had received orders to deploy to Kuwait and that troops and equipment would begin to move "soon".
President George W. Bush awarded the I Marine Expeditionary Force the Navy Presidential Unit Citation, the first awarded to a Marine unit since the Vietnam War. The Presidential Unit Citation, or PUC, was instituted during World War II by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and is awarded by the Secretary of the Navy in the name of the President for service in a unit with outstanding performance in action. The degree of heroism required is the same as that which is required for the award of the Navy Cross to an individual.
Navy Presidential Unit Citation was for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance in action against enemy forces in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from 21 March to 24 April 2003. During this period, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) (REIN) conducted the longest sequence of coordinated combined arms overland attacks in the history of the Marine Corps. From the border between Kuwait and Iraq, to the culmination of hostilities north of Baghdad, I MEF advanced nearly 800 kilometers under sustained and heavy combat. Utilizing the devastating combat power of organic aviation assets, coupled with the awesome power resident in the ground combat elements, and maintaining momentum through the herculean efforts of combat service support elements, I MEF destroyed nine Iraqi Divisions. This awesome display of combat power was accomplished while simultaneously freeing the Iraqi people from more than 30 years of oppression and reestablishing basic infrastructure in the country. During the 33 days of combat, to the transition to civil-military operations, I MEF sustained a tempo of operations never before seen on the modern battlefield, conducting four major river crossings, maintaining the initiative, and sustaining forces. The ferocity and duration of the campaign was made possible through the skills and determination of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coalition Partners comprising I MEF at all levels, all echelons, and in all occupational fields. By their outstanding courage, aggressive fighting spirit, and untiring devotion to duty, the officers and enlisted personnel of I Marine Expeditionary Force (REIN) reflected great credit upon themselves and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
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