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27 Mar 2001 | Sgt. Kevin Dolloson 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

"Assemble the Crisis Action Team in the flagplot briefing room." - That was the phrase heard throughout the USS Kearsarge's public announcement system several times over a four-day period, beginning a barrage of missions testing the capabilities of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU).

The 24th MEU completed its Special Operations Capable Exercise (SOCEX) March 26 after five months of intensive training.  The 24th MEU (SOC) is now certified to perform a variety of missions during its deployment, such as mechanized raids, joint task force insertions, embassy reinforcements, boat assaults, humanitarian assistance, non-combatant evacuations, mass casualty operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, visit board search and seizures and airfield seizures.

The first mission called for the insertion of the Combined Arms Anti-Tank / Light Armored Reconnaissance detachment the evening of March 22.  Throughout the next day there were as many as nine missions going at once.  Again, MEU personnel and Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group crew combined efforts to safely and expediently conduct the missions. 

Throughout SOCEX, the MEU relied heavily on its Rapid Response Planning Process (R2P2).  Teams broke away and worked to find the best course of action for each mission and launch that course of action within a six-hour window. 

SOCEX differed from the previous months five months of training in that the MEU had its sights set on becoming special operations capable and several personnel from II Marine Expeditionary Force's (IIMEF) Tactical Exercise Control Group (TECG), or G-7 Division, were aboard the USS Kearsarge to grade the MEU on planning and execution.

According to Maj. Greg Caldwell, IIMEF Deputy G-7, the TECG sets up the exercise scenarios for MEUs being evaluated.

"The group sets up the exercise and provides a control group to evaluate and advise the participants on the best courses of action," said Caldwell.

Additionally, during SOCEX the 24th MEU (SOC) hosted several media representatives as well as BGen. Robert M. Flanagan, Commanding General, 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and BGen. Emerson N. Gardner Jr., Deputy Commanding General, Marine Forces Atlantic.

After almost three weeks on ship combined with an in-depth and intense SOCEX qualification, members of the 24th MEU (SOC) are now preparing to enjoy a few weeks of block leave before they head to the Mediterranean Sea for six months.

Follow the 24th MEU (SOC) deployment on their website at