USS PELELIU --
Marines are known to always strive for excellence and to do that requires constant training even in their off-time.
Seven Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (MEU) communications section have started training to become more proficient in their jobs and to work out any problems before pre-deployment training starts.
The Marines embarked this morning on a 5-day at-sea period called STRAPEX, or “Strap Exercise,” on the USS Peleliu (LHA 5) to better familiarize themselves with their gear.
“There has been a significant personnel turnover,” said Capt. Michael E. Ginn, assistant communications officer, 15th MEU. “We’re using this exercise to see where we stand with our training and equipment. By the end of this, we will know where we need improvements,” said the 29-year-old native of Los Angeles.
According to Sgt. Alan Carrillo, data chief and non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the training, this exercise is the first of many to come.
“We’ll start coming to the ship more often, setting up our communications gear to help familiarize the Marines with the equipment they’ll be using on deployment,” said the 24-year-old El Paso, TX native. “Tools such as internet, video conferencing, and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones are all things that are our responsibility.”
Carrillo said that only Marines had VOIP phones last deployment, a communications system that is more secure, higher quality, and more efficient. They are working with the Navy to integrate VOIP for the entire ship for the upcoming deployment next year.
“This at-sea period is also critical because it allows them to become more accustomed to ship life,” said Carrillo. “Some of my Marines haven’t been on ship before and they’ll learn many of the do’s and don’ts while we are underway this week.”
The 15th MEU’s communications section plans to conduct training similar to this one at least once a month during the current dwell time. The exercises typically last a week and involve testing and using all of the gear to ensure proper function.
“The more we learn now, the less we’ll struggle later,” said Ginn. “If something is missing here, we still have time to get it. When we’re deployed, we won’t have that luxury.”
The 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors and is a forward deployed force of readiness capable of conducting numerous operations, such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance Operations and a wide range of amphibious missions. The 15th MEU is currently in its dwell period after it completed a seven month Western Pacific deployment December 17, 2010.