The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was activated Feb. 1, 1985, at Camp Pendleton, Calif., as the 13th Amphibious Unit, Fleet Marine Force and assigned to I Marine Amphibious Force. The unit was redesigned on Feb. 5, 1988, as 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Between 1988 and 1995, the 13th MEU participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Southwest Asia, from September to November 1990, and January through March 1991, respectively. The unit also participated in Operation United Shield, Somalia, from February through March 1995.
Between 1996 and 2007, the 13th MEU participated in Operation Southern Watch, Southwest Asia, in August 1996, December 1997 through January 1998, and October through December 2000. The 13th MEU also participated in Humanitarian Assistance Operations, East Timor, in September 2000, Operation Determined Response, Yemen, from October 2000 through January 2001, and Maritime intercept operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf, in December 2000.
The 13th MEU also participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, from January through May 2002 and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq, in October 2003, October through December 2005 and from June through September 2007.
The 13th MEU deployed for seven months during Western Pacific Deployment 16-1, from February through September 2016, conducting exercises, theater security cooperation events, and postured to support the Theater Commanders in response to crisis.
From June 2018 to March 2019, the Unit participated in a Western Pacific Deployment 18-2. During this time, the 13th MEU most notably few the first F-35 combat operations in history.
From June 2020 to February 2021, the 13th MEU command element deployed as the command element for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command 20.2. The unit provided an on-call crisis response capability across U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility. In addition to training several countries, to include Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, the unit provided support to both Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria and Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan.