15th Marine Expeditionary Unit


Hometown: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US

15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
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Featured Photo


15th MEU Marines execute amphibious assault

Recent Photos

15th MEU Marines execute amphibious assault 15th MEU Marines execute amphibious assault
U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 15 coordinate the buildup of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s combat power at Red Beach aboard Camp Pendleton,...
Always Ready: 15th MEU Marines prepare for amphibious assault Always Ready: 15th MEU Marines prepare for amphibious...
U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare for an amphibious assault with a rehearsal of concept drill during Certification Exercise (CERTEX) aboard...
US Marines use cutting edge communication systems at sea US Marines use cutting edge communication systems at sea
A MV-22B Osprey is prepared for flight during Certification Exercise (CERTEX) off the coast of San Diego, April 19, 2015. The Osprey has been fitted with a system of...
Marines conduct a simulated raid off the coast of LA Marines conduct a simulated raid off the coast of LA
U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force depart the USS Anchorage (LPD 23) on combat rubber raiding craft during Certification...
Open waters Open waters
The USS Anchorage (LPD 23) sails during Certification Exercise (CERTEX) off the coast of Los Angeles April 17, 2015. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is embarked...
Keep the trucks rolling Keep the trucks rolling
U.S. Marine Sgt. Cody Joslyn, left, and Cpl. Ayrton Borges measure equipment during Certification Exercise (CERTEX) aboard the USS Anchorage (LPD 23) off the coast of...


Recent News Stories

15th MEU: Certified to deploy
U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed Certification Exercise, or CERTEX, while aboard the Essex Amphibious Ready Group’s three ships off...
State of Readiness: Force Reconnaissance Marines
Reconnaissance Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit wake early for a busy day of mission preparation and execution. With no time to waste, they begin their...
15th MEU Marines, Essex ARG complete COMPTUEX
U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked aboard the Essex Amphibious Ready Group’s three ships March 16-April 1, for Composite Training Unit...
State of Readiness: Backbone of Movement State of Readiness: Backbone of Movement
An entire company of Marines squeeze through the tight hallways of the USS Essex (LHD 2) wearing their flaks and kevlars, carrying their weapons along with packs...
State of Readiness: Hours from Objective State of Readiness: Hours from Objective
Three MV-22B Ospreys land on San Clemente Island, Calif., simultaneously. A dust storm swarms around the Marines as they run out of the aircraft and set up 360...
Bon Appetit: Marines turn up heat Bon Appetit: Marines turn up heat
In the early hours of the morning, while most Marines are fast asleep in their racks, stand a select few of food service specialists in a formation ready for a...



State of Readiness: Force Reconnaissance Marines


Story by Cpl. Anna Albrecht

USS ESSEX, At sea - Reconnaissance Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit wake early for a busy day of mission preparation and execution. With no time to waste, they begin their morning routine and start prepping gear. Everything, from grabbing ammo, chow and water, getting maps ready and laying out routes, all needs to get done before the mission.

Just hours after a warning order is dropped, the Marines may need to be ready to roll out the door and execute whichever type of mission they are tasked with. In those hours, they ensure everyone who is a part of the mission knows their role and where they need to be.

They hold briefs and as many rehearsals as they can until it’s time to load up. As they do their final gear inspections and communication checks, they take inventory on themselves to make sure they are prepared for the upcoming operation.

“Everyone gets nervous, you’re going into an unknown,” said Sgt. Sean Bernstein, an assistant team leader with the 15th MEU’s Maritime Raid Force. “You are a link in a chain and if you’re the weak link, you’re going to make the chain fall apart. It doesn’t matter how brave or courageous you may think you are, everyone should have some degree of nervousness in respect for the mission and what it’s going to require of you. You can only hope and train to be able to live up to that task.”

Bernstein explained this type of nervousness is mitigated throughout the workups the Marines go through prior to the MEU.

The Force Reconnaissance Detachment has been preparing for the MEU for about two years, beginning with a school phase where the Marines learn different insert capabilities. Typically, a reconnaissance platoon will include a freefall team, mobility team and a dive team. Once everyone has their capabilities, they bring the teams together to work as a platoon.

“When the teams are put together as a platoon, those separate capabilities are sort of put on the back burner.” Bernstein said. “You’re not going to spend a war just inserting, that’s only half the battle. We do live-fire maneuvers, incorporate close-air support with ground maneuver and pull from the experiences of the platoon to try to create this symbiotic relationship between the different disciplines and the different experiences.”

Once Bravo Company, Force Reconnaissance Detachment composited with the MEU, they had to tackle various maneuvers, such as visit, board, search and seizure and gas-oil platform missions, limited-scale precision raids, and day and night inserting capabilities from the sky, sea and land.

“We started with [interoperability training] and [realistic urban training],” Bernstein said. “Those are to incorporate the, hopefully, polished reconnaissance [company] with the rest of the MEU. They need to learn how to incorporate us and we need to learn how to help them. It’s not about us, it’s about the mission. So if we can enhance the mission or even increase the mission capability, then we’re going to be employed.”

They go through a grading scale that progresses to their final at-sea period, Certification Exercise, or CERTEX, to see what they are capable of doing.

“That all starts with taking your insert capabilities, refining them to polished team tactics, applying those to a cohesive platoon and being able to seamlessly transition with either the [Battalion Landing Team’s] requirements or the MRF requirements in any type of scenario,” Bernstein said. “There’s a wide scale of abilities that we have to make applicable to a platoon’s capability rather than just having a bunch of guys with a bunch of skills.”

Training for every type of environment, insert and mission, gives the Marines a wide range of skills and takes them out of the linear progression of how a mission should go.

“That fosters the initiative-based tactics that we have been preached,” Bernstein said. “It’s that out-of-the box thinking that allows a six-man team to be more effective than a 12-man unit with limited experience with other types of warfare. The rare case with our platoon and our company is that we have been able to be proficient in everything that we’ve been tasked to do. It’s the nature of the wide set of skills; we have to be thinkers, we have to be problem solvers.”

The teams within the MRF have been able to refine these skills over the workup and become more proficient and confident in their work. Bernstein said working with each other for so long builds a bond within the team that doesn’t compare to a typical work relationship.

“It comes to the point where when you’re used to seeing the same face, hearing the same voice day in and day out, through your weekends, multiple weeks at a time, or hearing them over the radio ... that relation supersedes anything that you could imagine in a normal work environment,” Bernstein said.

This relationship is apparent during operations. Once they depart for the mission, their focus immediately shifts away from the individual and towards the team and mission.

“When you’re so used to giving up your own personal comforts for that team or that mission accomplishment, [being] with that group of guys it’s almost symbiotic at that point,” Bernstein said. “The phrase ‘it’s not about yourself anymore’ becomes real; it’s not just something you say. It’s something that you actually feel, whether conscious or unconscious, you have this degree of importance to your brother.”

The Maritime Raid Force’s hard work will pay off when they depart on their upcoming deployment. As they continue to train the teams, platoons, and company as a whole will keep improving and progressing into a stronger force. Their out-of-the-box thinking and variety of skills will assist them during anything they may encounter.

Recent Video

Los Angeles Raiders Los Angeles Raiders
U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force insert onto their objective on combat rubber raiding craft in Los Angeles during...
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U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, execute battalion level training exercise during...
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U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, execute battalion level training exercise during...
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U.S. Marines with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, execute a vertical raid during Composite...
Hard Hit: Marines Conduct Mechanized Raid Hard Hit: Marines Conduct Mechanized Raid
U.S. Marines with Kilo Company Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit conduct a mechanized raid aboard Camp...
PMINT Sustainment Operations PMINT Sustainment Operations
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Zachery Johnson engages targets from a UH-1Y Venom during Amphibious Squadron/Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration Training (PMINT) above San...