NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Tears streamed down the faces of family members as they said goodbye to their loved ones who were preparing to leave on a journey around the world.
The Marines and sailors of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked the ships of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and pulled away from San Diego for their deployment to the Western Pacific, Sept. 17.
The MEU is the smallest size Marine Air Ground Task Force, which is a unit comprised of ground, air and logistic elements, all under one commander. Because of this composition, the MEU can quickly react to numerous difficult situations to providing a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based capability in a forward operating environment.
The MEU brings with them amphibious assault vehicles, tanks, crew-served weapons, aircraft, and landing craft vehicles, all which are needed to get the unit from ship to shore.
Training for this type of deployment is no small feat. The MEU Command Element gained operational control of the three subordinate elements in February, and the Marines and sailors haven’t stopped preparing for even a moment.
Muscle memory is the key to successful mission accomplishment, and that is what the pre-deployment training is focused on over the past seven months. The Marines honed skills during the simulated missions in everything from conducting maritime operations in shipping lanes to safely and expediently evacuating non-combatants from deteriorating environments in countries around the world to full-scale combat operations.
The training was demanding, but the 15th MEU command element wanted to ensure the Marines and sailors were facing as many obstacles as they could to prepare them for any unforeseen circumstances. It was not uncommon for training to take place at night, in the dark and over the water.
The unit had three at-sea periods, Realistic Urban Training, both maritime and ground, as well as “in the field” training. All of these evolutions were opportunities to gain brilliance in the basics and develop the skill sets needed for any requirement asked of them.
In addition, the MEU staff conducted two iterations of Rapid Response Planning Process to equip them for planning missions from humanitarian aid to combat quickly, efficiently and effectively.
The Marine Air-Ground Task Force is comprised of Battalion Landing Team 3/5, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 and Combat Logistics Battalion 15, the ground, air and logistics elements, respectively.
The MEU is stationed aboard the ships of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, which are the USS Peleliu, the USS Rushmore and the USS Green Bay. The Marine Corps partners with the Navy to project power from the sea and provides the President and the Unified Combatant Commanders with a forward-deployed, flexible, sea-based MAGTF.