MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit wrapped up realistic urban training or RUT Nov. 4, 2016, conducting a direct action raid to close out the training period for the MEU’s second major pre-deployment exercise.
Training like this enhances the MEU’s capability to execute special skills operations by training each of its capabilities to work together. The exercise enables the different components to continually practice interoperability in preparation for the missions they will conduct on deployment.
Conducting both land-based and maritime exercises to maximize training capabilities, Marines were distributed between Fort Pickett, Virginia and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The Fort Pickett ranges provided Marines with a more realistic effect of what a combat environment would be like when the unit is forward deployed.
Marines from Lakota, Kilo, and Weapons Company with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, assisted by elements from 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance and Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, spent over a week in the field.
“Personally never having worked with some of our attachments before, training like this put everyone on the same page,” said Cpl. Cody Nielsen, a section leader with 3/6.
Over the duration of the exercise, Marines trained on several different training ranges. The Infantry Platoon Battle Course consisting of multiple objectives over a 3 km distance enabled Marines to hone individual skills.
“Unlike what the units are used to,” said Nielsen. “These ranges allowed for guys to actually have to deal with fatigue and exhaustion which is huge.”
1st Lt. Robert Demson, weapons platoon commander for 3/6, explained how this exercise made it possible to recognize what skills the unit needs to improve on, and understand the importance of intense training in the rear to make sure they’re prepared for deployment.
“I think the biggest success itself was watching young Marines having come out of the School of Infantry just a few months ago and utilize their knowledge,” Demson said. “It enabled them to see their piece in the puzzle when it’s not just an individual Marine or individual squad, but when it’s a platoon reinforced acting as a whole and all working together,” he said.
On Camp Lejeune, Marines with the Maritime Raid Force conducted maritime missions such as visit, board, search, and seizure drills or VBSS. Utilizing air and sea capabilities to claim and reclaim control of ships, Marines board both aircraft and inflatable boats and are transported off the coast of North Carolina to a ship, where they board and search the vessel.
The exercise was led by the Expeditionary Operations Training Group to assess abilities and refine standard operating procedures. These exercises known as pre-deployment work-ups, enable the MEU to demonstrate its capabilities and see where it stands as an expeditionary force.
“After finally getting the chance to get out there and see what we’re capable of,” said Nielsen. “I couldn’t be more comfortable to be deploying with these guys.”
Slated to leave in the upcoming year, the unit has two more at-sea periods to better adapt to life on ship and become more accustomed to working with their Navy brethren.