ABOARD USS WASP -- Editor's Note: LtCol. Chad Kirkley is the Commanding Officer of BLT 2/6.As the 24th MEU(SOC) reaches the midpoint of Landing Force Sixth Fleet Deployment 2000-2 (LF6F 00-2) he provided a Commanders perspective.QUOTE: The Marines and Sailors of Battalion Landing Team 2/6 have performed extremely well during the first three months of our deployment - a tribute to the quality of small unit leadership and the demanding pre-deployment training. Maintaining an edge on ship is difficult at best, but with imagination and stick-to-it doggedness, training has been regularly conducted aboard ship to maintain our skills. This has included, not only classroom instruction, but also live fire of small arms and heavy machineguns, rappelling/fast roping, small boat operations, and physical fitness. Intelligence briefs are provided to keep all hands up-to-date with on-going situations throughout the European Command Area of Responsibility. Our first exercise, Spanish Amphibious Exercise, allowed the BLT to go ashore, stretch our legs and train both in a non-live fire and live fire capacity. The training area, Sierra del Retin, provided ample room to deploy all the companies to include tanks and amphibious assault vehicles. Live fire ranges allowed the honing of individual and crew skills as a variety of situations were presented to the Marines. Extremely high winds impacted the use of helicopters and surface landing craft, but never the less, this proved to be a good warm up for our next challenge.Exercise Dynamic Response in Kosovo was a great opportunity. Experiencing the sights and sounds of a war torn country still enduring violence was illuminating. The Marines and Sailors responded very well. As with Marines throughout history, they were ready to fight, but were just as ready to share a smile with the hundreds of children who enthusiastically greeted us and so badly wanted to talk to American Marines. We traveled over one thousand miles and traversed extremely difficult terrain during the three weeks in Kosovo without any mishaps. Combined patrols were conducted with British forces through urban and rural areas. It has been the highlight thus far.We have enjoyed several liberty ports since departing Kosovo. Trieste, Italy and Marmaris, Turkey proved to be a welcomed respite from being underway. We have just completed our mid-deployment maintenance period in Rota, Spain. All of our vehicles were taken off the ships for cleaning and maintenance, gear was inventoried and cleaned, a Corporals Course was conducted, and Marines/Sailors conducted physical fitness training. We are now re-embarked aboard shipping and are underway. The BLT stands ready to meet any tasking. ONQUOTE. Follow the 24th MEU (SOC) deployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.LtCol. Kirkley's photo is posted below.