CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is conducting a two-week interoperability training exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., which started Oct. 22, 2012, as part of their pre-deployment training program.
“The idea behind the 26th MEU interop is a chance for all four components of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to work together,” said Capt. Glenn T. Jensen, a Peoria, Ariz., native, and 26th MEU force protection officer.
At their first pre-deployment training exercise at Fort Pickett, Va., the elements of the MAGTF had a chance to start developing their individual standard operating procedures and work on small unit leadership. The focus for this training evolution is to start combining the capabilities of the MAGTF.
“Before, when we were training at Fort Pickett, we were working as four separate units conducting training,” said Col. Matthew St. Clair, a Jarrettsville, Md., native and 26th MEU commanding officer. “Now, this training allows the elements of the MAGTF to come together in a tactical scenario where we will have the opportunity to exercise our rapid response planning process and then execute the tactical plan – all while trying the best we can to replicate being aboard ship. Obviously, we are not on ship, but we are trying to replicate some of the planning spaces and limitations.”
The training evolutions conducted will show how well the MAGTF works together and what areas will need improvement.
“While out here, it will give us a chance to see some of those SOPs that we worked on at Fort Pickett and see if they are actually working,” said St. Clair. “We will see if they need to be further refined or if new SOPs need to be developed. We will also see the task organizations for those specific raid forces and their capabilities that we would project from the sea to the objective, and if we need to make any adjustments to those task organizations.”
Each training evolution is important in preparing for the 26th MEU’s deployment, including courses being conducted by the Special Operations Training Group.
“There are four courses being conducted by SOTG,” said Jensen. “They are doing a motorized raid course, their second non-lethal weapons course, a tactical evacuation course for the corpsman and they are also doing an urban reconnaissance and surveillance course.”
The next step in the 26th MEU’s pre-deployment training exercise is to bring the whole force together and work from ship.
“This training exercise helps prepare us for our next phase by taking the lessons learned and applying them when we embark on ships with the amphibious ready group and conduct this expeditionary operation from the sea,” added the commanding officer.
This is the second major pre-deployment training event the 26th MEU’s MAGTF has worked on in a coordinated effort since their composite, Sept. 7, 2012. The 26th MEU is scheduled to deploy in 2013.