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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit


15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
15th MEU goes hot in Kuwait

By Lance Cpl. Timothy T. Parish | | July 3, 2008

The Marines and sailors of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, two months into a scheduled deployment, began sustainment training in the Middle Eastern nation of Kuwait recently with the aim of staying sharp as the Marine Corps’ tip of the spear.

The heat and arid climate found in Kuwait offers the Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU a place to train for possible future operations in an environment not found in the United States, according to Maj. Thomas G. Citrano, assistant operations officer, 15th MEU.

“We train as we fight. We don’t do anything in training that we wouldn’t be prepared to do in combat,” Citrano said. “Everything were doing out here training in Kuwait can be duplicated in combat.”

The sustainment ashore includes live-fire small arms ranges, battery live-fires and flight operations. Each major subordinate element of the 15th MEU, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Combat Logistics Battalion 15 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-165 (REIN), is taking part in every aspect of the training, according to Citrano, a native of Jacksonville, Fla.

“We were on ship for the better part of forty days and we hadn’t been able to get out on ground, so this is our first chance to get the entire (Marine Air Ground Task Force) off the ship to train together as a MAGTF,” said Citrano.

Aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5), USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), the Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU have limited opportunities to conduct full-scale combat training. The expanse of open desert and military training ranges around Camp Buehring give the Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU ample opportunity to enhance their combat readiness, according to Citrano.

“We do sustainment firing on ship to try and stay proficient, but in the end of the day it is about Marines on the ground training with their squads—the artillery-men need to be out there firing, the pilots need to be able to go and drop ordnance and fire their rockets,” said Citrano.

With blistering heat and blowing sand, the austerity of the Kuwaiti desert test the physical readiness of any Marine to conduct real-world operations, according to Maj. Aaron D. Eckerberg, 15th MEU air officer.

Furthermore, the desert environment of Kuwait provides the Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU a glimpse of what real-world operations in similar environments, like Iraq and Afghanistan, look like according to Eckerberg.

“Being in Kuwait is a real good simulation of a lot of environments we could see,” said Eckerberg. “As far as (BLT 2/5) going out in an austere environment, this is the same type of stuff they would see anywhere we would go.”

“I think we do a real good job at practicing like we play. We train just like we fight. Other than real bullets flying both ways, we simulate exactly how it is going to work,” said Eckerberg, a native of Kansas City, Missouri.

The Camp Pendleton-, Calif., based 15th MEU will be conducting sustainment training in Kuwait until mid-July.