24th MEU completes SOCEX, ready for deployment

27 Jun 2002 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon

When the predeployment cycle for any Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) begins, the primary goal is to obtain the Special Operations Capable (SOC) designation.

This means while on deployment, the MEU is capable of carrying out special operations missions like noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO), embassy reinforcements or Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP).

For the Marines of the 24th MEU, this goal is almost complete after wrapping up a successful Special Operations Capable Exercise (SOCEX) June 27.

During the weeklong exercise, the 24th MEU conducted a number of operations designed to test their ability in special operations missions under the watchful eyes of evaluators from the G-7 section of II Marine Expeditionary Force.

The final step for the MEU will include a meeting with representatives from Marine Forces Atlantic, during which the MEU is expected to be critiqued on its performance and receive the SOC qualification.

Some of the missions conducted by the MEU during SOCEX were an airfield raid, a TRAP mission, a mass casualty and a NEO.

"The most challenging part of SOCEX for the MEU, was that it was a fast-paced exercise with many challenging missions, conducted over a wide range of areas on and off base requiring multiple assets to successfully complete each mission," said Capt. Sean J. Lynch, assistant operations officer, 24th MEU.

The exercise began on Onslow beach and spanned a radius of more than 300 miles, with operations being conducted in Georgetown S.C. to the south and Atlantic Airfield, N.C. to the north.

During the last two days of the exercise the Marines participated in a force-on-force exercise with other Marines from the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism).

With the majority of the MEU's training completed, the Marines and Sailors are now ready for its routine six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea.

"We are definitely ready to step off," said Lynch. "After completing a challenging Predeployment Training Program, we are now ready to face anything that can happen overseas."