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    26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 32nd Marine Brigade forge bonds on Mount Olympus

    Any Clime, Any Place: 26th MEU(SOC), 32nd Marine Brigade integrate during Greek Bilat 2.0

    Photo By Sgt. Nayelly Nieves-Nieves | U.S. Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Nayelly Nieves-Nieves 

    26th Marine Expeditionary Unit     

    VOLOS, Greece – Operating in the shadow of Mount Olympus, Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)) and the 32nd Hellenic Marine Brigade tackled bone-shaking cold temperatures as they conducted cold weather bilateral training, Volos, Greece, Feb. 11-19, 2024.

    As the first Allied force to train at the Mount Olympus Mountain Training Center, the 26th MEU(SOC) used the bilateral training as an opportunity to exchange tactics, techniques, and procedures for both mountain warfare and cold weather environments.

    During the training, Marines received classroom instruction focused on cold weather topics. These subjects included proper wear of warming layers and gear, cold weather injury prevention and treatment, proper care for weapons in freezing temperatures, and maneuvering in a cold and frozen environment. The classroom instruction was reinforced further by practical application, as well as, sled movement, mobility over rough terrain, and casualty evacuation training in a cold weather field environment.

    “Cold weather training is about more than just adapting to low temperatures. It's about honing our ability to operate in unfamiliar, demanding environments—a skill crucial for our overall readiness,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jacob McKinney, a cold weather instructor assigned to the 26th MEU(SOC)'s Ground Combat Element.

    Participation in bilateral training exercises enhances our professional relationships and improves overall coordination with Allied and partner militaries during times of crisis. The field portion of the training culminated the lessons taught while introducing maneuver tactics in an austere environment.

    “Moving on dry ground and frozen ground are two different beasts,” said McKinney. “Even just the basics such as walking become difficult when the ground is frozen. If you’re not wearing the proper gear you just slip around and can become a liability instead of a force multiplier because now you’re a danger to the team moving around with a weapon and no stability.”

    As winter conditions arrived, both the 26th MEU(SOC) and the 32nd Hellenic Marine Brigade confronted the challenges of mountain and cold weather operations head-on.

    “We thoroughly enjoy working with the 32nd Marine Brigade and this has been a great opportunity for the Marines of the 26th MEU(SOC) to hone their warfighting skills at altitude and in a tough operating environment,” said Colonel Dennis W. Sampson, Commanding Officer of the 26th MEU(SOC). "Throughout this deployment, spanning the entire Tri-COCOM region, our Marines and Sailors have truly demonstrated that the 26th MEU(SOC) Marine Air-Ground Task Force is capable of operating in any clime…and any place,” Sampson emphasized.

    Training with Allies and partners brings unique opportunities to deployed units and nations in collaborating to solve real-world problems, stay prepared to deter regional threats, as well as, build bonds and strengthen relations. Cold weather training in particular provides an opportunity to operate together in austere environments, further developing interoperability to respond to threats in multiple domains.

    1st Lt. Dakota Smith, a platoon commander with the 26th MEU(SOC) emphasized the strategic significance of this collaboration, "Building lasting relationships with partner nations, especially in austere environments, allows us to maintain readiness and experience the strengths and capabilities of our allies."

    McKinney, a seasoned member of the 26th MEU(SOC), offered insights into the unique aspects of cold weather training. "Adapting to unfamiliar environments is crucial for our readiness, and this exercise provides an excellent opportunity for that. It's not just about survival; it's about thriving in any condition.”

    In facing the freezing environment together, the two military units collectively worked to share information and experiences, and are not only enhancing their combat readiness but also exemplifying the spirit of unity that defines NATO military forces. This collaborative endeavor sets a powerful precedent for future joint ventures and reinforces the notion that adversity, when faced together, forges unbreakable bonds.

    Since its deployment in July 2023, the 26th MEU(SOC) has participated in a wide array of exercises, operations, activities, and investments with partners and Allies throughout the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) areas of operations. From the snow-capped mountains of Norway, in the high north, to the deserts of the Middle-East, the 26th MEU(SOC) has trained alongside multinational partners in the Baltics, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Djibouti, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Kuwait, demonstrating U.S. commitment to NATO and our global partners.

    The 26th MEU(SOC) serves as one of the United States premier crisis response task forces capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on-forces and designated special operations, in support of theater requirements of the Geographic Combatant Commander.

    The 26th MEU(SOC) serves as an elite stand-in force with all-domain operational capabilities necessary to compete and win within the littorals and weapons engagement zones of an adversary in any clime or place.

    Headquartered in Naples, Italy, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) operates U.S. Naval Forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.

    For more information contact the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Communication Strategy and Operations Officer, Capt. Angelica White at


    Date Taken: 02.19.2024
    Date Posted: 02.19.2024 14:37
    Story ID: 464235
    Location: VOLOS , GR

    Web Views: 419
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