News: Marines, sailors conduct embassy reinforcement training exercise
Story by Lance Cpl. Joshua Brown
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Uncertainty is a challenge presented to the Marine Corps. Rapidly changing situations on the ground can leave the average team of individuals unprepared for the environment they are entering. It takes a certain force to carry out a mission in the face of uncertainty. Enter the United States Marine Corps.
Training keeps Marines’ skills sharp and refined, and it affords time for commanders to better develop their course of action for the challenges they may encounter in real world scenarios.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 264 conducted a field training exercise simulating a long range insert, simulated casualty situation, population struggling with civil unrest, and an embassy reinforcement scenario June 10-13, 2014, aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
Marines and sailors in the exercise were divided based on roles in the exercise: those who were performing their duties and actions as Marines in a deployed environment and role-players.
Role-players wore either modified desert utility uniforms, simulating local police forces; collared shirts, simulating American citizens in country; or non–collared shirts, simulating unidentified local nationals. The variations in clothing required Marines in the exercise to think and evaluate to ensure the embassy complex was protected and provide safety for American citizens.
The exercise kicked off with a long-range insert via MV-22B Ospreys with VMM-264, flying from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., delivering the Marines and sailors with 2/2 to their insert point at Quantico. From there, they hiked to the embassy complex, reinforced the embassy and carried out operations to maintain control of the situation.
“It was good training because it prepares us for long-range air movements and maintaining proficiency for future operations involving embassy reinforcement in a foreign country,” said Capt. Caleb M. Reed, the company commander of Golf Company, 2/2.
Expeditionary operations are at the center of the exercise. The Marines Corps is by nature an expeditionary force. Should the need arise to reinforce an embassy, or provide fast response to an international crises, the Marine Corps is ready.
“We are practicing functioning as a scalable and responsive expeditionary force and the procedures we conduct thousands of miles away from our initial point,” said Reed.
Marines can be called on at any moment to deploy in response to a crises in any location. This requires flexibility and expeditionary expertise, which the Marine Corps focuses much of its efforts toward.
“There were many levels of our unit being exercised,” said Reed. “The tactical execution of the mission was planned within 24 hours, working with command and control.”
The command and control for the exercise was the 26th MEU command element. Capt. Glenn T. Jensen, the law enforcement integration officer for the 26th MEU, provided oversight during the exercise and ensured the role-players actively and safely provided challenging encounters and scenarios for the Marines reinforcing the embassy complex.
During the scenario Marines in the embassy conducted non-combatant evacuation operations as the simulated civil unrest drove the American citizens in country to seek safe passage out of country via the embassy.
“The operation was a success,” said Jensen. “The chance for the platoons and companies to execute this independently and plan while working with local nationals and other role-players … provided good preparation for execution in deployment.”
Role-players in the exercise performed mock protests and riots that engaged different courses of action and immediate actions performed by the embassy Marines. The riot teams conducted barrier reinforcement to prevent the mock protesters from attempting to enter the embassy and cause disarray.
“It tested the maturity and critical thinking of our Marines,” said Reed. “They face stressful and uncertain situations, and will have to make decisions that can potentially change America’s diplomatic standing with other nations.”
Marines’ actions abroad are not limited to effecting the perception of the United States, but the outcome of the host nation’s interests. This is a powerful responsibility, and one that is demonstrated through training, so deployments can be executed without any interference from external elements.
“Things can change at any moment,” said Reed. “These Marines will be prepared and ready should a situation arise.”
The goals of the participating units were met during the exercise with the ultimate purpose of the exercise reflecting the mission and intentions of the commanding officer of the 26th MEU.
“This is the [commanding officer’s] priority – successful training, deployment, and redeployment of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force,” said Jensen. This slice is a big deal because it works across all elements of the MAGTF, and it shows we can execute as an expeditionary force.”