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Hundreds of troops, amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, and landing craft, air cushion, were involved in the massive training exercise, Steel Knight, at Camp Pendleton on Dec. 10. Photos by Rachel Stine
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Marines test the waters, land for Steel Knight exercise

OCEANSIDE — The first troops landed on Red Beach at Camp Pendleton in amphibious assault vehicles before sunrise on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Faces covered in camouflage paint, hands grasping tightly to firearms, the Marines crawled and dashed their way up an embankment.


They moved in packs up to a set of single-story empty buildings that served as a mock-up enemy town. Orders interlaced with curse words were called out amid shouts of “Bang! Bang! Bang!” Buildings were entered and quickly cleared one by one.

Naval ships and hover crafts followed, delivering more land vehicles to the beach.

Hundreds of troops from the 1st Marine Division participated in a large-scale training exercise on Camp Pendleton to practice amphibious landing. They are part of the 25,000 troops participating in a weeklong exercise, known as Steel Knight, which is designed for units to hone their war fighting capabilities.

1st Marine Division commanding general, Maj. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said that with operations in Afghanistan and Iraq winding down for the first time in 10 years, “The Marines are getting back to our roots, our amphibious operations.”

He said that the extensive exercise is necessary for troops to prepare for deployment by learning how to coordinate with numerous other units as well as sustain a large unit with food, fuel and equipment

Steel Knight is carried out annually, and the exercise has expanded considerably from last year, which involved only 18,000 troops practicing at Camp Pendleton.

This year, amphibious landing and long-range helicopter raids exercises are also being carried out at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma throughout the week.