II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF)
When directed, II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) deploys and is employed as a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) in support of combatant commander requirements for contingency response or major theater war. With appropriate augmentation, II MEF serves as the core element of a Joint Task Force (JTF); prepares and deploys combat ready MAGTF's to support combatant commander presence and crisis response; and supports service and combatant commander initiatives as required.
With more than 62,000 Marines and sailors, II MEF is representative of the largest and most powerful Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). While II MEF is included within the operational force structure of US Marine Corps Forces Command (MARFORCOM) and engages in operations and exercises throughout the MARFORCOM area, it routinely commits operating forces in support of other US unified and NATO commands. II MEF is, in fact, available for and prepared to respond to contingency requirements worldwide. II MEF can be employed in its entirety or has the capability of forming task-organized MAGTFs of lesser size such as a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), a MAGTF about one-third the size of a MEF built around a regimental landing team or a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), a MAGTF about one-third the size of a MEB built around a battalion landing team. The size and composition of any MAGTF is dependent upon the mission assigned. The routinely deployed MAGTFs, the 22nd, 24th and 26th MEUs, deploy on a rotating basis to be a Unified Combatant Commander’s force in readiness. In addition, II MEF provides specialized support to MARFORCOM and other commands through the Special Operations Training Group, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, and Marine Corps Security Force Regiment.
Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, the II Marine Amphibious Force (II MAF) was activated at various times to participate in operations and exercises as required by the National Command Authority.
On 20 July 1984, the II MAF stood up as a permanent headquarters for the 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Force Service Support Group, and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and was assigned to Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic (MARFORLANT). In February 1988, when the Marine Corps adopted the word 'expeditionary' in lieu of 'amphibious' to reflect the Corps' evolving role in national defense, II MAF was redesignated as the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
After its activation, II MEF contributed significantly to the country's defense and foreign policy objectives and maintained a robust operational tempo. II MEF forces engaged in combat, peacekeeping, humanitarian and security operations in places such as Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Djibouti, Turkey, and elsewhere throughout the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Atlantic, Middle East, and south Asia regions during the 1990s and into the 2000s. Additionally, the unit was called upon to provide assistance at home in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Floyd and Katrina.
By the late 1990s, II MEF was a combined arms force consisting of ground, air, and logistics forces possessing the capability of projecting offensive combat power ashore while sustaining itself in combat without external assistance for a period of 60 days. With a strength in excess of 47,000 Marines and Sailors, II MEF was representative of the largest and most powerful MAGTF. II MEF was included within the operational force structure of US Atlantic Command (USACOM) and engaged in operations and exercises throughout the USACOM area. In addition, II MEF routinely committed operating forces in support of other US unified and NATO commands. II MEF was, in fact, available for and prepared to respond to contingency requirements worldwide. The only routinely deployed MAGTFs at the time, the 22nd, 24th, and 26th MEUs, deployed on a rotating basis to the Mediterranean Sea area to serve as the landing force for the Commander, 6th Fleet.
In addition to the option of being employed in its entirety as a MEF-sized unit, II MEF had the capability of forming tasked organized MAGTFs of lesser size such as a MEF (Forward), a brigade-sized MAGTF about one-third the size of a MEF, or a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), about one-third the size of a MEF (Forward). The size and composition of any MAGTF was dependent upon the mission assigned. One mission that could be assigned to the MEF (Forward) would be assignment for planning, deployment, and utilization of equipment stored aboard Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS). The MPS program involves the forward deployment of the MPS Squadron of 4-5 ships loaded with a brigade's worth of combat equipment and supplies and the airlifting of the MEF (Forward) to the designated objective area to link up with the MPS Squadron. At the same time, tactical aircraft of the MEF (Forward) are flight ferried to an airfield in or near the area of operation. The MEF (Forward) can be sustained for 30 days by the supplies aboard the ships.
In 1999, USACOM became US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and MARFORLANT became Marine Corps Forces Command. II MEF remained assigned to the command after the redesignations.
In 2005, 2007, and 2009, II MEF spearheaded efforts in Iraq's al-Anbar province, and had a significant presence in Afghanistan starting in 2001 through the deployment of Marine expeditionary units, infantry battalions, logistics units, aviation squadrons, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and II MEF (Forward).
In 2011, USJFCOM was inactivated and MARFORCOM was returned to the control of Headquarters, US Marine Corps. II MEF remained assigned to MARFORCOM after the shift.
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