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24th MEU rehearses airfield occupation, humanitarian aid procedures

22 Feb 2019 | Lance Cpl. Camila Melendez 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina – Marines successfully completed an airfield occupation rehearsal and subsequent humanitarian assistance exercise on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 19 - 21, 2019. The exercise was conducted to certify the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit could execute the missions in the event of a real world scenario.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment inserted into an austere airfield via MV-22B Osprey, established security, and set the conditions for follow on humanitarian assistance operations. Once the airfield was secure, the humanitarian assistance survey team began coordinating with simulated host nation security forces and notional relief organizations.
“We looked at the infrastructure of the area along with the ability to provide food, water, healthcare, and sanitation to the population,” said Maj. Daniel Fitzgerald, the executive officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 24.
The scenario tested the Marines in a different way than combat situations. They had to interact with the simulated civilians and plan for multiple factors within the scenario.
“We harp on the same stuff over and over again so that if we do face real life situations, our guys are entirely capable of handling it,” said Lance Cpl. David Walker, an infantry Marine with 1/8.
The scenario allowed the Marines to rehearse establishing a command and control capability and provide a wide range of services in support of a foreign humanitarian crisis.
“This exercise should help us in the event of a real scenario,” said Fitzgerald. “There are several situations where it’s possible that we could do these types of missions, so it’s a very good rehearsal in terms of getting your mindset into that forward support for a humanitarian situation.”
Throughout the exercise, Marines had to balance appropriate force posture adequate force protection. The scenario was a good repetition for the Marines and prepared them for unique circumstances they could face in the future.
“I believe the training has gone well,” said Fitzgerald. “The Marines have definitely gained an understanding of what is required of them in a humanitarian aid situation.”