OFF THE COAST OF FLORIDA --
The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 8 sailed down the Eastern seaboard from their home stations of Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Norfolk, Va., to conduct training exercises off the coast of Florida in preparation for their deployment scheduled for early next year.
The Marines plan to operate around the Mayport, Fla. area in the coming days as part of Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) a test of the Navy-Marine Corps teams ability to rapidly plan and execute a number of missions based off scenarios they could possibly face once deployed.
The current scenario has the 24th MEU and PHIBRON 8 preparing for a wide variety of missions in a fictional country in the vicinity of Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Fla.This training mission is similar to the type of real-world operations the 24th MEU and PHIBRON 8 participated in during their last deployment in 2010.
Approximately 2,100 Marines are participating in COMPTUEX and are currently aboard the amphibious assault ships that comprise PHIBRON 8 USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and USS Gunston Hall.The training is scheduled through Dec. 21 and will include a number of exercises including a non-combatant evacuation of personnel; visit, board, search and seizure of maritime vessels at sea; and aviation training for the various aircraft of the 24th MEU.The Marines will conclude the exercise with an amphibious assault and offload back at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
This training provides the 24th MEU the opportunity to exercise their abilities as a Marine Air Ground Task Force synchronizing the ground, air and logistics elements of its Battalion Landing Team, Aviation Squadron, and Combat Logistics Battalion, said Col. Frank Donovan, commanding officer, 24th MEU.
The missions were conducting with our Navy counterparts off the Florida coast are complex and the unique opportunity we have to train in Florida, in unfamiliar territory, will better prepare us for what we may face once deployed, Donovan said.
While the 24th MEU and PHIBRON 8 are operating in the Jacksonville and Mayport areas, locals may notice increased aviation operations with MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters. Marines will be on the ground conducting their humanitarian assistance scenario in the vicinity of Naval Station Mayport later this week.
The training is meant to develop cohesion between the 24th MEU and PHIBRON 8 in conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations while operating from the sea.
We appreciate this opportunity to train somewhere new and appreciate the support from the Jacksonville area, Donovan said.
The training off the Florida coast will conclude early next week when the 24th MEU and PHIBRON 8 sail north back to the coast of North Carolina.
For more information or imagery from the 24th MEU please go to the units websites:
If media is interested in covering 24th MEU or would like more information please contact the following:
GySgt. Soukhi Forbes
Capt. Scott Sasser
What is a Marine Expeditionary Unit?
Marine Air Ground Task Force
Since World War II, in nearly every crisis, the United States Marine Corps has deployed projection forces, with the ability to move ashore with sufficient sustainability for prolonged operations. These forces have been organized into Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) a combination of air, ground, and support assets. MAGTFs are established for specific missions, or in anticipation of a wide range of possible missions. Combining air, ground, and logistic assets maximizes the combat power of each of the war fighting elements. MAGTFs have long provided the United States with a broad spectrum of response options when U.S. and allied interests have been threatened and in non-combat situations which require instant response to crisis. Selective, timely and credible commitment of air-ground units have, on many occasions, helped bring stability to a region and sent signals worldwide to aggressors that the United States is willing to defend its interests, and is able to do so with a significantly powerful force on extremely short notice.
Marine Expeditionary Unit
The MEU is the smallest of the Marine Air Ground Task Forces and is comprised of about 2,200 Marines and Sailors. The MEU's major elements are the Command Element (CE), the Ground Combat Element (GCE), the Aviation Combat Element (ACE), and the Logistics Combat Element (LCE).There are seven MEUs in the Marine Corps.22nd, 24th and 26th MEU are based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.11th, 13th and 15th MEU are based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.The 31st MEU is based out of Okinawa, Japan.MEUs deploy for approximately seven months and provide combatant commanders throughout the world an immediate crisis response force capable of responding to a variety of missions from full-scale combat to humanitarian assistance.
The Command Element (CE)
The CE is comprised of the commanding officer and supporting staff -- about 200 Marines and Sailors. It provides the overall command and control essential for effective planning and execution of operations and synchronizes the actions of each element within the MEU.Skill sets falling under the command element include administration, intelligence, operations, logistics and embarkation, communications, legal and public affairs.
Ground Combat Element (GCE)
The GCE, about 1,200 strong, is built around an infantry battalion and provides the over-land combat power for the MEU. Assets inherent within the standard infantry battalion include medium and heavy machine guns, mortars, combined anti-armor teams (CAAT) and scout snipers. While assigned to the MEU, the unit, designated "Battalion Landing Team," is reinforced with light armored reconnaissance vehicles (LAV), tanks, artillery, combat engineers and assault amphibian vehicles (AAV).
Aviation Combat Element (ACE)
The ACE is a composite squadron that provides the MEU medium to heavy lift capability, assault support and close air support (CAS). Its assets include MV-22Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters, AH-1 Super Cobra helicopter gunships, UH-1 Huey utility helicopters and AV-8B Harrier jump jets and C-130 transport planes that follow the MEU as they deploy and are on-call for the MEU from land bases nearby. With a force strength of approximately 500, the ACE includes air traffic control, aircraft maintenance/support and aviation logistics/supply capabilities.
Logistics Combat Element (LCE)
About 250 Marines and Sailors of the LCE provide combat support such as supply; maintenance; transportation; explosive ordnance disposal; military police; water production and distribution; engineering; medical and dental services; fuel storage and distribution; and other services to the deployed MEU. The LCE gives the MEU the ability to support itself for 15 days in austere expeditionary environments.