USS Iwo Jima, At Sea -- Marines and Sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit caught their first
glimpse of what their life will consist of while deployed aboard the USS Iwo
Jima, USS New York, or the USS Fort McHenry, during Amphibious Squadron/ Marine
Expeditionary Unit Integration, or PMINT, August 6—13.
PMINT is the
MEU’s second major pre-deployment exercise and is intended to get the
servicemembers accustom to operations and everyday life aboard ship.
purpose of PMINT is really a two-part answer,” said Maj. Tyler Holland, 24th MEU
assistant operations officer. “First, it’s for the MEU Marines and Sailors to
familiarize themselves with the ship, and understand - and practice –
[shipboard] customs and courtesies. It’s also designed for the MEU and PHIBRON
staffs to come together and conduct planning … and to solidify the relationships
that are instrumental for the success of our mission once
PMINT is the first part of the “crawl, walk, run” idea with
the Navy and Marine Corps integration. It not only allowed the most senior
ranking officials to work together, but also the Marines and Sailors to work
closely with the administrative, intelligence, supply, and communication
“I took PMINT as an exercise to get us familiar with ship life and
working conditions, [while] working side by side with the Navy,” said Lance Cpl.
Robert M. Rivers, a data network specialist with the 24th MEU’s Command Element.
“On a daily basis we were extremely busy; on average we had 16-hour
The adjustments needed to working and living on the USS Iwo
Jima versus Camp Lejeune forced the Marines to keep a strong
“You have to maintain a confident mindset in a new place. Just
reminding myself that I know everything and not to let the surroundings affect
me,” said Rivers, a Laurel, Mississippi native.
Rivers said PMINT allowed
him to get familiar with the ins-and-outs of working on ship and actually
enjoyed some advantages it provided.
“What PMINT taught me was extremely
important for going forward and I feel more confident in my abilities to work
alongside the Navy on the ship,” said Rivers. “I actually like working on ship.
Everything is closer ... if I needed to go to any specific office, it was right
there. It’s like a small community.”
Working on the internal ship
problems was not the only difficulties the Marines and Sailors faced and had to
conquer while aboard the ship. Getting familiar with drills and daily ship life
was something they had to overcome.
All four elements within the MEU
conducted training. Maritime Raid Force with the Command Element conducted a
Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure exercise. The Ground Combat Element, Battalion
Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment conducted two raids. The Combat
Logistics Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 24 conducted non-combatant
evacuation operation drills.
The Air Combat Element, Marine Medium
Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced) conducted day and night flight operations,
specifically focusing on carrier deck qualifications and support to the entire
Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The Navy stood busy conducting Landing Craft, Air
Cushioned vehicle operations every day and flight operations, among other
A popular adjustment for the Marines on ship was getting used to
their sleeping quarters.
“As far as ship life, adjusting to the sleeping
quarters was a challenge. I would put my heels on the foot of the bed and my
toes were scraping the ceiling,” added Rivers with a chuckle, referring to the
confined berthing spaces.
To complete PMINT the 24th MEU Marines and
Sailors conducted a tactical offload. The MAGTF used all elements to storm
Onslow Beach, North Carolina.
“The intent of this tactical offload was to
test our procedures to debarkation of the ship as well as identifying procedures
that can help expedite accountability and timely launch of landing craft from
ship to shore,” said Capt. Ricardo B. Rivera, the 24th MEU embarkation officer.
“In addition, it forced the unit to identify C2 shortfalls and strengths while
transitioning from command on ship to command ashore.”
The Iwo Jima
Amphibious Ready Group deployed LCACs loaded with amphibious assault vehicles,
Light Armored Vehicles, and Humvees before conducting debarkation.
tactical offload is the intentional build-up of forces ashore in a phased manner
from ship-to-shore that incorporates combat power with logistical sustainability
with the added flexibility of calling forces ashore or change the plan if the
situation changes ashore,” said Rivera, a Bronx, New York, native. “The next
phase is to prepare the beach for landing with naval gun fire ashore, followed
by the Assault Wave - consisting of AAVs - to secure the beach head, push
forward, and establish the perimeter to allow the scheduled waves to
The battalion landing team established a perimeter and conducted
security before the rest of the offload could continue.
Once the beach was
secured, Rivera explained, the rest of the landing craft, along with armored
vehicles, came ashore and conducted embarkation to the landing force objective
area or command post.
The MEU is scheduled to conduct more tactical
offloads during upcoming pre-deployment exercises. The offloads will be
evaluated by Expeditionary Operations Training Group on how the MEU organizes,
tracks, controls, and employs forces that are deployed from ship-to-shore.
The next major pre-deployment exercise for the 24th MEU is Amphibious
Ready Group / Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise, commonly known as ARG/MEU EX,