Thursday, June 04, 2009

13th MEU Completes ARG/MEU Exercise

By Cpl. Robert C. Medina, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs

DJIBOUTI (NNS) -- The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed the weeklong ARG/ MEU Exercise near Camp Lemonier Djibouti May 26.

The exercise was a ship-to-shore training evolution designed to strengthen Navy and Marine Corps amphibious capabilities and involved service members from the USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Comstock (LSD 45) and 13th MEU.

"As the MEU, we are the floating reserve for U.S. Central Command," said Lt. Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer, Battalion Landing Team 1/1. "In that capacity, we have to be ready to go anywhere in the area of operations and perform any of our standard MEU missions."

Marines were joined by the French Foreign Legion throughout the exercise, giving both military forces a chance to learn from each other.

"We mainly paired the French Foreign Legion with Alpha Company to do combined exercises," said Wallace. "They did some small unit infantry training and practiced room search operations to help train French forces."

Wallace said Alpha Company conducted other training with amphibious assault vehicles and tanks to familiarize the French with U.S. Marine Corps operations.

"We also brought some of the French officers and Legionnaires aboard the ship to give them a tour," said Wallace. "This was to build relationships between the two companies and to show them how we live out [at] sea."

Wallace said he hopes this exercise will be a stepping stone for follow-on MEUs to do something similar and continue to build working relationships.

"I think we came out of the exercise stronger than when we came in," he said. "We have identified any issues and taken corrective action to bring ourselves back up to our full capabilities."

Weapons Company, BLT 1/1, also tested some of their equipment ashore while conducting field operations.

Staff Sgt. Steven E. Williams, platoon sergeant for Weapons Company, said they wanted to put some rounds down range to keep up to date on marksmanship skills.

This gave Weapons Company an opportunity to get some time out in the field to build unit cohesion.

"I know it was really hot out here, but both new Marines and those who have been with us for awhile learned something," he said. "It was good to get off the ship and get some training in. I think the Marines really enjoyed themselves; I know the French did as well."

The 13th MEU and Boxer Amphibious Ready Group are currently on a deployment in support of regional and maritime security operations.

In addition to BLT 1/1, the MEU is composed of its Command Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 13.