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    Marine Corps

    What Is a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)?(3:44)

    An MEU is made up of ground, aviation and logistics combat elements, all operating under a unifying command element. MEUs are trained and prepared to launch a range of operations on extremely short notice.

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Col. Pete Patronzio: My name's Pete Patronzio. I'm a colonel in the United States Marine Corps, and I am currently the commander of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. A Marine expeditionary unit is essentially a very small slice of everything the Marine Corps owns that loads itself onto three Navy ships and sails around the world to ensure that we have a forward naval presence.

The great thing about a Marine expeditionary unit is, it does in fact have just a little bit of everything the Marine Corps has. I take those capabilities of the Marine Corps and bring them into different operating areas to ensure that, if the commander of that operating area needed a response force, we're already in his neighborhood.

A MAGTF is the Marine Air Ground Task Force. We have a command element which is largely the conductor of the orchestra, and then we have all the people in the MAGTF that play the instruments. The air component: jets, helicopters, V22, our latest capability. The ground element: We have tanks. We have amtracs, we have light armored vehicles. And then we have that logistics element, the guys that can make water, make electricity. They can do whatever it is you wanna do, and that makes up that whole MAGTF, and we bring that wherever we go.

We have seven acres of US territory you can put anywhere you'd like in the world. The seven acres is the three ships. Nobody else can bring the capabilities that we can bring and move them as fast as we can move them that can do anything. From high-intensity combat operations, all the way down to making power in a disaster relief situation. The rapid response capabilities that we have, we can put a company of Marines with all their support to work within six hours.

We are an incredibly flexible force, with a multitude of missions, but the heart and soul of it are those 2,300 Marines that bring such a varied capability with them. We are ready to go where the nation needs us to go. In our upcoming deployment, we anticipate some of those theater security cooperation pieces, where we go to a nation, we do bilateral training, and we'll do that probably 10 times at different places around the world.

We'll also take a break every now and then, and we'll go a liberty port, and we'll see the world. We put that American face out there in the world, and we interact with people, and we share culture, and we share who we are and what we do. That's just as important as the training we do or the combat that we do, so that people see Americans, and more than that, they see American Marines, and they understand, we are here to make this a better place.

One of the things that's truly remarkable is the wide variety of young men and women in this MEU. That's the strength of the MEU. What carries the day is that strategic corporal. That young Marine who's out there on the ground, who understands the difference between a pointed weapon and an outstretched hand, and what each of those can bring to the fight. It's not me as the commander. It's not the equipment I have. It's each individual Marine and Sailor, man and woman. What they do for this nation is incredible. That's the strength of this MEU.