By Lance Cpl. Ryan Joyner
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Over the roar of chanting from a sea of rioters, an embassy reinforcement team makes their way through the crowd of more than 75 angry protestors to rescue American citizens caught in the frenzy outside the exterior walls of a U.S. consulate.
This exercise was the culmination of weeks of extensive training for Marines and Sailors from Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13.3 as they conducted their Alternate Mission Rehearsal Exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene, N.C., and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, June 10-14, 2013.
This exercise enabled the task force to prepare for their upcoming deployment to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy where their headquarters are.
SP-MAGTF Africa 13.3 prepared themselves by working in a notional country and arranging training locations to reinforce building relationships with foreign partner nations.
The five-day exercise included non-English speaking role players simulating realistic situations that SP-MAGTF Africa 13.3 may encounter while in support of Marine Corps Forces Africa. The temperature soared into the 90s for the majority of the exercise, giving the teams a taste of what sort of heat to expect once deployed.
During the AMRX, the Marines and Sailors conducted a variety of training missions ranging from embassy reinforcement and noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO) to theater security cooperation with military–to-military engagements.
The largest and most involved mission the Marines and Sailors completed was the NEO, which had every element of SP-MAGTF Africa 13.3 working together to safely evacuate refugees.
The center of command maintained the vital communications link between all six teams spread throughout the training region. They ran nonstop as the intermediary between the boots on the ground and higher command.
During the NEO, the members of SP-MAGTF Africa 13.3 flew into Camp Lejeune in two MV-22B Ospreys then hiked to the consulate.
“Once [at the consulate], we started processing the evacuees,” said Cpl. Daron Jones, a disbursing liaison in the task force and Wilmington, N.C., native. “It was great training that we can now look back on if we are ever asked to complete a NEO during our deployment.”
The Special Operations Training Group provided guidance on how to set up and operate the NEO through an Evacuation Control Center. The SOTG provided the essential role-players for the exercise along with skills and first-hand knowledge gained from experience.
The SP-MAGTF surpassed their goal of evacuees processed resulting in 10 evacuees more than the required 50 within an hour.
“The AMRX is the culminating exercise that evaluates our mission essential tasks list by working with role players from African partner nations,” said Lt. Col. Thomas F. Marble, SP-MAGTF Africa 13.3 commanding officer.
The AMRX was evaluated by the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which served as the higher headquarters. They were able to give feedback and guidance necessary for mission accomplishment.
“It prepares us for diverse cultures and languages for training forces. There are always places to improve but the Marines appreciate the authenticity of the role players,” said Marble, a Stafford, Va., native.
The Marines and Sailors also gave classes and demonstrations to the acting forces, such as patrolling, Marine Corps martial arts, and weapons handling.
Simulated cases of malaria and heat exhaustion allowed the corpsmen in the task force to remain proficient in performing life-saving skills.
“The missions performed are an accurate representation of what may be asked of us,” said 1st Lt. Brett Constantino, a SP-MAGTF Africa 13.3 assistant team leader and a Woodbine, Md., native. “So it’s good to know that we have gained the confidence and capability to perform these missions.”
The task force is scheduled to deploy later this summer.