CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Months of hard work culminated in the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) receiving its 'Special Operations Capable (SOC)' designation January 23.
The long and difficult journey began in August when the MEU, commanded by Col. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., assumed operational control of its major subordinate elements; Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (Reinforced), and MEU Service Support Group 22.
Evaluators from the II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) followed the MEU's five-month progression through combat courses, three at-sea training exercises, urban combat training in South Carolina, and most recently, its SOC Exercise (SOCEX) in January.
The SOC program was begun in 1985 when the Marine Corps established a standardized training and evaluation program for all outbound MEUs.
"Today marks the end of our dedicated training phase," said Col. McKenzie in an address to key staff members from throughout the MEU. "The entire MEU has met my commander's intent to this point, and we're ready to deploy. As of today, our focus is to prepare for combat operations."
The unit's mid-February embarkation aboard the amphibious assault ships WASP, WHIDBEY ISLAND, and SHREVEPORT will mark the 19th time the unit has sailed forth into harm's way.
"We've been working really hard so it's a huge relief that the pre-deployment training is over," said Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Braudrick, of Kingston, Ohio, a mortarman with BLT 1/6's Weapons Company. "We're all excited and ready to get on ship next month and get in the fight."
For more information on the mission, organization, and status of the 22d MEU, visit the unit's web site at www.22meu.usmc.mil.