CAMP PENDLETON — Marines and sailors of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit began a large-scale, two-week training exercise June 13 — a first since the Marine air-ground task force formed in May.
The exercise — a land-based evolution before the unit’s upcoming training at sea with Navy counterparts — will challenge the unit’s ability to plan and execute different scenarios to prepare for a deployment later this year.
The MEU’s major subordinate elements are Battalion Landing Team 3/1, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.
While in the field, the unit will practice air strikes, daytime and nighttime raids and humanitarian assistance and noncombatant evacuations.
“The training events during this exercise are focused on several essential tasks the MEU must master to excel in a deployed environment in order to provide the combatant commander the most flexible and relevant forward-deployed force,” said Col. Michael R. Hudson, the 11th MEU’s commanding officer.
The MEU’s mission is to provide a rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime operations by sea, surface or air.
“The Marine Corps remains as America’s expeditionary force in readiness – a balanced air-ground-logistics team. We can operate from Navy shipping or phase ashore in any littoral region of the world to solve the challenge now, or buy decision space for our leaders,” Hudson said.
“Our aircraft will be operating on USS New Orleans, and our tactical vehicle drivers will be training with sailors from the Naval Beach Group to master the difficult skill of driving on and off amphibious landing craft,” Hudson added. “The early integration of our forces at every opportunity will allow us to harness the synergy of the Navy and Marine Corps team.”
USS New Orleans, along with USS Makin Island, USS Pearl Harbor, and Amphibious Squadron 5 form the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, the Navy or “blue-side” partner to the Marine “green-side.”
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