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Photo Information

A mortarman with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, drops an 81mm high-explosive mortar in the tube of an M-252 81mm Mortar System during a live-fire exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 23, 2014. The 24th MEU is currently conducting a Realistic Urban Training exercise, their first major pre-deployment training event in preparation for their deployment at the end of the year.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Austin A. Lewis

24th MEU completes first major 'work-up'

4 Aug 2014 | Lance Cpl. Joey Mendez 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit wrapped up a weeks-long training event July 30, 2014, with a long-range raid into Moyock, North Carolina, successfully putting an end to Realistic Urban Training, the unit’s first major pre-deployment training exercise.

The purpose of RUT was to insert 24th MEU forces into unfamiliar places outside the normal training areas within Camp Lejeune, thereby creating realistic scenarios where neither operators on the ground nor planners back at the Command Operations Center had previous experience with the objective’s landscape.

“It’s very rare that you get to insert onto an objective that is over a hundred miles away at an offsite location, integrating multiple military occupational specialties from different branches, with complete aviation support while at night,” said 1st Lt. Brett A. Hermanson, an infantry officer and commander of the Security Platoon with the 24th MEU’s Maritime Raid Force, while speaking about the final raid July 30. “Not to mention the friction of doing it against a (simulated) actively-armed enemy, embedded within a population, and then having to re-task forces to secure additional buildings or segments of the town while conducting actual tactical evacuations. It’s all pretty impressive.”

For the 24th MEU, RUT began July 12 when a contingent of Marines and Sailors moved to Fort Eustis, Virginia, to take part in the first half of RUT, based on maritime interdiction operations. On July 19, Marines returned to Camp Lejeune to conduct the second half of RUT, which focused on a series of land-based events throughout several areas in North Carolina and Virginia.

During the land-based portion, the MEU conducted three raids that provided the opportunity for more experience and knowledge.
“We showed up two months ago as a part of the security element force with a lot of guys who just graduated from the School of Infantry and only had basic infantry knowledge,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee, the platoon sergeant for the MRF’s Security Platoon. “Here we are a couple months later and I’m watching them do Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercises. They’ve grown exponentially from where they started.”

Another significant aspect of RUT was that it was the first time all four elements of the 24th MEU came together and conducted missions as a full Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

Hermanson, a Waukon, Iowa, native, explained how the Marines had to learn the importance of understanding his or her individual role in each mission and how each specific action can have a massive ripple effect, disproportionate to their individual act.

“Understanding this role is essential to establishing trust among all the elements of the MEU,” he said.

“I am extremely comfortable with the possibility of going on a real world mission with this Aviation Combat Element and Combat Logistics Element. They have already proven they are very capable of supporting us in over half a dozen full mission profile events.”

The MEU’s organic aircraft, from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced), consisting of MV-22B Ospreys, CH-53E Super Stallions, AH-1Y Cobras and UH-1Y Hueys, provided all of the assault support and simulated close-air support during RUT. The MEU’s LCE, Combat Logistics Battalion 24, supported RUT missions as well, even providing overall command and control of one mission. This is a role the CLB, and its commander Lt. Col. Matthew Dumenigo, might perform if the 24th MEU should have to separate during their upcoming deployment and take on concurrent missions.

The 24th MEU will take the lessons they identified during RUT into their second “work-up” exercise, called Amphibious Squadron/Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration, or PMINT, which begins Aug. 6, 2014. PMINT will be the first time the entire MEU embarks with their Navy counterparts aboard the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group.