« Okinawa Marines putting everything into rescue effort | Main | Grunts receive new tools to defeat IEDs »

4th MEB shuts down, Anti-terrorism units to disperse throughout fleet

The Marine Corps has decided to shutter its anti-terrorism brigade late this week, a move that will help the service jump start its entry into the special operations world.


By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer

After more than five years in action and only a couple high-profile missions, the units that were once part of the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism) will stay intact, but scatter to other commands in the fleet.

Most of the MEB’s headquarters staff will assume new duties with the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, which will officially stand up Feb. 24 at Camp Lejeune.

The 4th MEB’s demise was at least a year in works, with the final nail in the coffin coming with the Corps’ new foray into special operations. Marine officials admit they needed some of the MEB’s manpower to start up the new spec ops command, which unfurls its flag at Camp Lejeune the same day the 4th MEB stands down.

But despite its brief history, the MEB has much to be proud of, its commander said.

“My feeling is that we’ve accomplished something but we haven’t lost anything in making this transition,” said Col. Glen Sachtleben, 4th MEB commander.

Largely conceived before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but activated weeks after, the 4th MEB was given command of some of the Marine Corps’ most specialized units, including Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion with its Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security teams, Marine security guards and the newly-formed Chemical Biological Incident Response Force. The MEB also assumed command of a so-called “anti-terrorism battalion” — an infantry unit with specialized training to defend against terrorist attacks.

The MEB deployed its AT battalion to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2002 to secure the newly liberated U.S. Embassy there, and worked to bolster the defenses of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last year.

The brigade also formed the first foreign military training units — small teams of Marine instructors deployed to assist militaries of countries on the brink of terrorist influence. The FMTUs will also come under the command of the new MarSOC.

All the MEB’s former units will now be under the command of new organizations and their ongoing missions will continue. But Sachtleben said the units’ final home is still under review.

“They have gone to maybe a new parent command home for support, but they still will continue to carry out their missions and work within their capabilities,” Sachtleben said. “That means that we have not lost the synergy gained by placing them underneath an element like the command of 4th MEB. All we’ve really done is just take those capabilities and give them to new parent commands but we’ve kept the strength and synergies gained.”