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NEWS | Jan. 10, 2024

26th MEU(SOC) Begins Exercise “Odyssey Encore”, a MEU(SOC) MAGTF Readiness Sustainment Exercise

By Capt. Angelica White

U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), embarked aboard the amphibious warships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG), will participate in a MEU(SOC) Exercise named “Odyssey Encore”, in vicinity of Volos, Greece, 6-17 Jan. 2024. This MEU(SOC) Exercise is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) readiness sustainment exercise that ensures the 26th MEU(SOC) retains the advanced skills and operational capabilities necessary to rapidly respond to any crisis or other emergent requirements across the Tri-Geographic Combatant Command region during a scheduled deployment spanning both U.S. Sixth Fleet and U.S. Fifth Fleet areas of operation.

This 14-day exercise marks the first exercise for the 26th MEU(SOC) since the Bataan ARG reaggregated on 28 December.

Throughout the unit’s deployment to the U.S. Fifth and Sixth Fleets areas of operations, the 26th MEU(SOC) has leveraged innovative approaches to readiness sustainment from land, air, and sea in order to sustain a high state of currency and proficiency across all MEU(SOC) MAGTF mission essential tasks in order to provide the Geographic Combatant Commanders with a highly skilled and ready immediate response force. More so, readiness sustainment has been a focus of effort during the deployment in order to return back to II Marine Expeditionary Force as a more lethal force able to infuse operational readiness back into the Major Subordinate Elements of the Carolina MAGTF.

The 26th MEU(SOC) serves as a premier crisis response force for the United States, capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations across the full spectrum of military operations, to include setting conditions that enable the introduction of follow-on-forces during contingency operations and the integration of forward deployed special operations forces. Coupled with the Bataan ARG, the 26th MEU(SOC) serves as the premier stand-in force with a full complement of all-domain capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals or weapons engagement zones of any adversary. Moreover, as a special operations capable Marine Air-Ground Task Force, the 26th MEU(SOC) serves as the “partner of choice” for forward deployed SOF conducting operations across the Tri-GCC region.

The focus of Exercise “Odyssey Encore” will center on individual and collective tasks at the small-unit-level that directly contribute to the readiness of the MAGTF to conduct its mission essential tasks. More so, this collective training event will provide an opportunity for the 26th MEU(SOC) to showcase the operational capabilities of the MAGTF during a small scale amphibious assault and focused MAGTF bilateral advanced live-fire training alongside the 32nd Hellenic Marine Brigade.

“After training at-sea for the past 100 days, this MEU(SOC) Exercise provides us with an opportunity to showcase the full breadth and depth of operational capabilities of a Marine Expeditionary Unit,” said Col. Dennis “Dolf” Sampson, Commanding Officer of the 26th MEU(SOC). “I’m excited for another opportunity to partner with the Hellenic 32d Marine Brigade and to get Marines and Sailors ashore to focus on warfighting while setting aside a little quality time during the exercise for some well-earned liberty in Greece.”

Since its deployment in July 2023, the 26th MEU(SOC) has participated in a wide array of exercises, operations, activities, and investments with partners and Allies throughout the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) areas of operations. From the snow-capped mountains of Norway, in the High North, to the deserts of the Middle-East, the 26th MEU(SOC) has trained alongside multinational partners in the Baltics, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Djibouti, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Kuwait, demonstrating U.S. commitment to NATO and our global partners.

The 26th MEU(SOC) remains postured as the Joint Staff Immediate Response Force, capable of rapidly responding to emergent crises across the Tri-Geographic Combatant Command region with specific attention and focus on providing flexible response options from distributed positions within the eastern Mediterranean.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) operates U.S. Naval Forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.

For more information contact the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Communication Strategy and Operations Officer, Capt. Angelica White at