Marines, Sailors Leave Port for Training Exercise

USS PELELIU  —   A Marine Expeditionary Unit is America’s “away team” and force prepared to deploy to any part of the globe should the call come. To fill this role, a MEU must train not only by themselves, but with their Navy counterparts, before beginning any deployment.

The 15th MEU embarked aboard the ships of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, home-ported at Naval Base San Diego, July 18, marking the beginning of Composite Unit Training Exercise 2012.

The pre-deployment exercise will evaluate the ARG’s ability to conduct integrated military operations at sea as the MEU conducts training operations on ship and ashore in realistic training environments to further refine their skills.

“We’ve had tremendous success thus far working with our Navy brethren throughout the pre-deployment training cycle in preparation of WestPac 12-02,” said Col. Scott D. Campbell, commanding officer, 15th MEU. “This exercise allows us to further refine our progress in integrating the blue-green team through staff planning and a range of amphibious operations.”

Leaving port requires a tremendous amount of manpower with a majority of the effort put on the shoulders of the MEU’s embarkation specialists and landing support specialists assigned to Port Operations Group. The 15th MEU alone has close to 2,400 Marines and sailors that require supplies, food, equipment, gear and vehicles to support them and their heavy training schedule.

The 15th MEU is slated to conduct training operations including helicopter and amphibious raids, flight and well deck operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, non-combatant evacuation operations, and visit, board, search and seizure drills.

To support these exercises, a collection of aircraft, including CH-46E Sea Knights, CH-53E Super Stallions, UH-1Y Hueys and AV-8B Harriers, are stored on the flight deck and in the hanger bay of the USS Peleliu until called to conduct operations.

Amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, Humvees and medium tactical vehicle replacements round out the assets waiting in the ship’s well deck.

“Everything we bring aboard is essential to completing the mission in the real world,” said Campbell. “It gives us an opportunity to train with each piece of equipment we will use. We must be brilliant at the basics to accomplish the mission, and COMPTUEX is another opportunity to train these basic skill sets to the highest proficiency.”

The 15th MEU includes all elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 (Rein), Battalion Landing Team 3/5 and Combat Logistics Battalion 15 represent the air, ground and logistics combat elements, respectively.

The 15th MEU is conducting its final training certification exercises before it deploys later this year.

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