News: 26th MEU, VMM 264 and CLB-2 conduct interoperability exercise
Story by Lance Cpl. Joshua Brown
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – When the country faces crises abroad ranging from radicals attacking embassies to humanitarian efforts in the wake of a natural disaster, the United States calls 9-1-1 and the Marine Corps answers.
The Corps offers the expeditionary forces necessary to act quickly with a wide array of capabilities to complete the mission at hand.
To sharpen the skills and readiness of these Marines, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted an interoperability exercise with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 264 and Combat Logistics Battalion 2 this week.
“We need to be efficient and prepared for missions we’ll encounter whenever we deploy,” said Staff Sgt. Robert I. Manion, the 26th MEU chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear chief, and one of the watch officers in the exercise.
The exercise is comprised of a simulated crisis scenario involving a fictional attack on a U.S. embassy and the capture of a U.S. ambassador. The crisis response operations center (CROC) is the hub of the exercise where many decisions and calls are overseen. It’s located at the 26th MEU command post aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“The CROC is the brain of the exercise,” said Manion. “The other sections function as the eyes and ears, but we’re the tip of the pyramid.”
The personnel inside facilitate the command and control for the exercise.
Marines in the CROC rely on communications Marines to provide them with the resources necessary to connect with the other units.
“We provide communications capabilities for the other units from here,” said Cpl. Greenwood, a 26th MEU radio technician. “This is the ‘ant hill’ or antenna hill.”
The ant hill is located outside the unit command post. It’s comprised of a tent with communications equipment and Marines with various communications based military occupational specialties.
“Once we get the Internet up down here, we run it up to the CROC and ensure they have Internet capabilities,” said Greenwood.
After the CROC Marines establish Internet capabilities they maintain contact with the other units in the exercise. That includes VMM 264, the air combat element operating at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., and CLB-2, the logistics combat element based out of Camp Lejeune, but operating at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., for the exercise.
CLB-2 left Camp Lejeune, boarded MV-22 Ospreys at New River, and flew from New River to Quantico on Tuesday.
Today marks the last day of the exercise.
“We’re correcting our deficiencies now,” said Manion. “We’re preparing to go at a moment’s notice and ready to execute with efficiency.”