BLACKSTONE, Va --
The Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit began the Realistic Urban Training exercise here Oct. 29, marking advancement to the second phase of their pre-deployment training.
RUT provides a variety of environments for MEU forces to train as an inclusive unit, undertaking a variety of urban-combat missions.
Heading to Virginia exposes environmental stress to the Marines by training them in realistic scenarios in an actual urban community, conditions that cannot be replicated aboard Camp Lejeune, said Col. Peter Petronzio, commanding officer, 24th MEU.
A unique asset of Marine Corps units and the reason the MEU is able to train in so many different places is the II Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Training Group.
“We are the only branch of service with a memorandum of agreement with the FBI that enables us to have an agent on our staff to facilitate realistic urban training off of federal installations.” said Maj. Ronald A. Jones, operations officer, SOTG, II MEF.
The Marines have an advantage in training away from their home base by concentrating fully on the exercise at hand.
“Getting everybody away from home, Marines feel a little more focused on what’s going on out here,” said Sgt. Galen Haffner, section leader, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “They don’t have to worry as much about things, such as families. [Being here] gets you away from where you live and puts you out here with everybody else to train.”
RUT focuses on training the MEU’s components as a group in a real world atmosphere.
“We are just affording the opportunity to train off-base,” said Jones, a former rifle company commander, BLT 2/2, 24th MEU. “[At this point the Marines] training out here, are training themselves.”
As the MEU’s expertise evolves, so do their challenges.
“Maneuvering in a heavily congested area; picking out possible threats lurking in windows and around street corners; trying to tell whether a car barreling toward a vehicle checkpoint is driven by a suicide bomber or an innocent family oblivious to their warning signals: these are just a few of the challenges Marines face in an urban environment,” said Petronzio
The rigorous, ever-evolving training regiment put forth by SOTG sharpens the skills of the MEU to a deadly point, so when the time comes to strike they will do so with lethal accuracy.
“We are making the training facilities so good now, that I don’t think there is really something they’re going to encounter overseas that had not encountered before,” Jones said.