KYPARISSIA, Greece -- The Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, embarked on the second phase of NATO's Exercise Dynamic Mix 2000 (DM00) by deploying all elements of the MEU - BLT 2/6, HMM-263 and MSSG-24 - ashore in Greece alongside other NATO forces.
Just off the coast of Kyparissia, Greece, ships from Turkey, Spain, Greece and the United States positioned themselves and employed their forces as part of each nation's participation in the multi-national exercise. The real test here was to verify that each nation could come together as a combined force.
According to LtCol. Chad Kirkley, BLT 2/6 Commanding Officer and Maj. Steve Grass, Operations Officer, the beach landing and insertion of the BLT participants was completed according to plan.
"Other than a few terrain challenges, the amphibious landing was well executed," said Kirkley. "And now over a period of three days, all the forces will conquer a series of objectives, which assist us in obtaining the main objective."
"I'm pretty satisfied so far," said Grass. "Once all the ground forces have reached the main objective, they'll seize and maintain it with the aid of Spanish and [24th MEU (SOC)] helicopter companies."
In addition to the MEU's ground forces participating in DM00, the MEU Service Support Group - 24 (MSSG - 24) operates as a multi-national combat service support element.
"We're here to support the Greeks, Spanish and the Turkish, as well as the MEU," said Maj. David Flynn, MSSG - 24 Executive Officer.
"We provide fuel, water, [Meals-Ready-to-Eat], maintenance, troop transportation and medical aid to everyone that requires it," said Flynn.
Of all the services the MSSG provides, the one that seems to be the most important during field operations, is the purification of water.
Through the use of the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification System (ROWPUS), they are capable of producing 600 gallons of water per hour at full capacity, depending on the level of salt in the water.
"We've got a great team," said Cpl. Charles Bell, Basic Hygiene Equipment Operator, MSSG - 24, from Decatur, Ala. "And I like [providing food and water to the troops], because if this were an actual battle situation, this would be a very important role."
Being NATO's largest exercise in their Southern Region this year everyone gets to benefit from advanced training and real-world exercises.
"I have a good feeling about this exercise," said LCpl. Jonathan Damren, Combat Engineer, BLT 2/6, from Buford, Ga. "I mean [my job is to] move obstacles and debris from the roadway, as well as do mine sweeps. We haven't gotten into that portion yet, but I anticipate a few challenges along the way. There won't be anything we can't handle and it's nice to train in foreign countries."
According to some of the Greek Army Soldiers, this multi-national exercise can help all nations involved.
"This is a good experience to help me understand how other [armed forces] operate," said Thanos Skopelitis, Greek Army, from Athens, Greece. "And it helps me to practice my English."
"I may never have the chance again to be a part of a major exercise like this one," said Greek Army Soldier, Constantinos Pappas, also from Athens. "So I am glad to be a part of this one. It's a great experience."
Follow the 24th MEU (SOC) deployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.