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4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Antiterrorism)

In September 2001 the Marine Corps announced plans to activate the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Antiterrorism) to coordinate its efforts to deter, detect, defend against and respond to acts of domestic and international terrorism. The mission of the newly reactivated MEB is to provide unified combatant commanders with rapidly deployable and sustainable specialized anti-terrorism forces. These forces are designed to deter, detect, defend, and conduct initial incident response to combat the threat of worldwide terrorism.

The 4th MEB (AT) was reactivated on October 29, 2001.

Marines from the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism) conducted their first ever battle handover and relief in place with elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001.

The mission of the 4th MEB (AT) is to provide Unified Combatant Commanders with rapidly deployable and sustainable specialized anti-terrorism forces to deter, detect, defend, and conduct initial incident response to combat the threat of terrorism worldwide.

The 4th MEB (AT) is the focal point for Marine Corps anti-terrorism capability. 4th MEB's specially trained Marines can respond to missions by themselves, but also complement the considerable capability of other Marine units, such as the Marine Expeditionary Unit, in response to terrorist threats worldwide.

The 4th MEB (AT) is organized with Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) and an Anti-Terrorism Battalion (AT Bn), which is 3d Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Additionally, the MEB includes the resources and unique capabilities of Marine Corps Security Guard Battalion (MSG Bn) and Marine Corps Security Force Battalion (MCSF Bn).

Upon receipt of specific tasks to deploy, the unit can be further task organized with other ground, aviation and/or combat service support units. Depending on the mission, the scalable total strength could include 4,800 or more Marines and Sailors.

The primary focus of Anti-Terrorism Battalion is on enhanced training. The battalion obtains specialized skills in courses such as Urban Assault Climber and Enhanced Marksmanship as well as advanced security techniques and weapon skills.

The unit will combine the capabilities and resources of the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, the Marine Security Guard Battalion, the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force and a newly designated Marine Antiterrorism Battalion, supported by dedicated aviation and combat service support assets.

While forward-deployed Marines have been dealing with the threat of terrorism overseas for many years, the attacks on 11 September 2001 caused Marine officials to assess their future plans to deal with the evolving terrorist threat. The activation of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Antiterrorism) is the result of that assessment.

Initially commanded by BGen Douglas O'Dell, the new unit was initially be headquartered at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and served as the focal point for the Marine Corps' antiterrorism efforts, under the command of the Commander of Marine Forces Atlantic.

The command will help identify threats outside the U.S. through forward-based units and individual Marines; coordinate information sharing and antiterrorism training with other federal entities and agencies; take actions to prevent the loss of American lives or destruction of property overseas, and support actions by other U.S. agencies to actively reduce the terrorist threat.

Most Marines assigned to this command are presently operational and already forward deployed. The headquarters, which is intended to increase the effectiveness of these elements, along with an additional battalion of Marines, will join this effort when the unit is formally activated later this month. The unit will grow and increase its capabilities in the months ahead.

Marine Corps officials also plan to increase the new unit's capabilities by adding a third Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team company. By adding to and improving connectivity between existing antiterrorism capabilities -- those designed to protect lives and property from acts of terrorism -- Corps officials intend to ensure any federal agency or combatant command receives credible, responsive support in the war against terrorism.

When fully manned, the new unit will include about 4,800 Marines, including those based at embassies and other diplomatic missions around the world.

The Marine air-ground task force [MAGTF] come in three sizes. The Marine Expeditionary Unit [MEU] is the smallest, Marine Expeditionary Brigade [MEB] being next larger in size, and Marine Expeditionary Forces or MEFs being the largest. By doctrine, MAGTFs must have four organizational elements: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element, and a combat service support element.

The 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade has a remarkable lineage. In the First World War, all Marine combat units in France were organized under the 4th Marine Brigade. It was the 4th Brigade's Marines who made the Corps world-famous at Belleau Wood (Chateau-Thierry), Soissons, and the Meuse-Argonne.

Four of this Brigade's Commanders became Commandant - Generals Lejeune, Neville, Gray, and Mundy. And three other Commandants - Generals Holcomb, Cates, and Shepherd - served in its ranks, as did so many other Marines who made a difference in the history of our Corps and our country.

After being in an inactive status for over four decades, and prior to our full-scale commitment in Vietnam, the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade was temporarily reactivated, to serve both as the primary unit in the Corps' counter-guerrilla, counter-insurgency exercises on the East Coast and in the Caribbean, and, as the command element of the Marine units which participated in the US intervention into the Dominican Republic in 1965.

In April 1965, an attempted coup by leftist forces in Santo Domingo threatened the safety of U.S. nationals and the U.S. Embassy requested their evacuation. This was followed by a request for intervention by the existing government. Marine forces were organized into the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade and included a Provisional MAG. By the end of May and early in June, Marines were being withdrawn.

In the 1970s, the Marine Corps' focus changed from counter-insurgency to guarding NATO's northern flank against the Soviet Union, And it was the 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade that was given the responsibility of leading that mission.During the Cold War, the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade was designated to reinforce northern Norwegian airfields and support a naval campaign for the initail defence of Norway and the north Atlantic in the event of a Soviet attack.

During Operation Desert Storm Marine aircraft were positioned on amphibious ships in the Persian Gulf as part of the Amphibious Task Force (ATF) under NAVCENT. During the early days of DESERT SHIELD, a powerful 18,000-man amphibious task force steamed into the North Arabian Sea to add an important element to the allied arsenal. Within less than a month after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, more than 20 amphibious ships from Norfolk, Little Creek, and San Diego had completed the 10,000-mile trip to the Gulf of Oman, where nearly 8,000 Marines and 10,000 Sailors commenced full-scale preparations to "hit the beach" to eject Iraq's army from Kuwait. The task force, with Marines from the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked, included air, land and sea assets tailor-made for coastal assault. The 13th MEU (SOC) was under the operational control of 4th MEB.

On 17 August (C + 10) 1990, the first echelon of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, with forces drawn from North and South Carolina bases and air stations, sailed from Morehead City. The brigade, numbering about 8,000, included RLT-2, MAG-40, and BSSG. To move 4th MEB, Atlantic-based Amphibious Group Two, with Amphibious Squadrons Six and Eight, divided itself into three Transit Groups of about five ships each. Transit Group 2 would sail on 20 August and Transit Group 3 on 22 August.

Recognizing the operational flexibility offered by an embarked amphibious force, General Schwarzkopf had decided to keep both the 4th MEB and 13th MEU(SOC) afloat. Command lines here would run from USCinCCent to ComUSNavCent (who was also Commander, Seventh Fleet) to CATF Commander, Amphibious Task Force), to CLF (Commander, Landing Force). General Jenkins, as CG 4th MEB and CLF, would also have operational control of the 13th MEU(SOC). On 11 September the first echelon of the 4th MEB arrived in the Gulf of Oman in Transit Group 1. By 17 September, all three transit groups were in the Gulf of Oman, just outside the Persian Gulf, and the amphibious task force began to plan for landing rehearsals.

On 29 January, in the northern Persian Gulf, the five ships of Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) ALFA-- USS Okinawa (LPH 3), USS Ogden (LPD 5), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Cayuga (LST 1186) and USS Durham (LKA 114) --with embarked Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (special operations capable) --steamed near the Kuwaiti island Umm al Maradim. The Marines assaulted the 300-meter by 400-meter island 12 miles off the Kuwaiti coast using embarked Marine helicopters, liberating the second Kuwaiti island. After destroying Iraqi anti-aircraft weapons and artillery stored on the island, which had been used as an early warning post by the enemy, the Marines raised the Kuwaiti flag over the second parcel of reclaimed territory.

The 4th MEB, in early January 1991, rescued the U.S. Ambassador, the Soviet Ambassador and nearly 300 other dignitaries from Mogadishu, Somalia, in Operations EASTERN EXIT: initiated from a range of 460 miles and involving the first in-flight night refueling of Marine helicopters.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:18:22 ZULU