Camp Pendleton, California -- “This is really the beginning of the next cycle and not the end of the old cycle,” said Cryer. “We’re not looking back anymore; from today on we’re pushing ahead and paying it forward. All of that hard work and effort will pay off later on in your cycle.”
The 15th MEU deployed from May to December 2015 aboard the USS Essex, USS Anchorage, and USS Rushmore. While deployed, the MEU participated in more than 15 different theater security cooperation or bi-lateral exercises including combined arms and desert survival training with French forces in Djibouti, the Malaysia-US Amphibious Exercise, Combined Afloat Readiness and Training in Brunei, and more than a dozen subject matter expert exchanges with partner nations throughout the Middle East. Notably, those exchanges included the MEU’s Female Engagement Team training with their counterparts in the Qatari Internal Security Forces.
“To the Marines and sailors that gave and sacrificed so much, I appreciate your efforts very much,” said Cryer. “As we reflect back, we want to remember those that have gone before us, both living and that have passed on.”
Cryer, from Fort Worth, Texas, assumed command on July 10, 2014. Col. James P. Fallon, previously the MEU’s executive officer, took command from Cryer.
“As commanders, we cannot fail because of the men and women we have serving in our ranks,” said Fallon, a native of Boston. “You’ve done phenomenal, but you know the Corps is going to ask for more. That’s what we do as Marines. We’re prouder of our legacy than any other service, and we’ll carry that on through as we lay the ground work for the next deployment.”
In addition to the TSC exercises, the MEU maintained its combat readiness throughout deployment by executing sustainment training in Kuwait, Djibouti, and Jordan. While executing sustainment training in Kuwait, the MEU was also flying in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. The MEU’s aviation combat element flew 76 sorties and 500 combat flight hours that resulted in 36 strikes against Da’esh positions, equipment, and personnel. In June, the USS Rushmore and embarked Marines rescued a group of Indonesian sailors from a sinking vessel in the Sulawesi Strait.
The aviation combat element was also tasked to support two presidential visits, one in Kenya and the other in Manila. During the support to President Obama’s visit to Kenya, the MEU was simultaneously executing sustainment training in Djibouti, preparing to send a company of Marines into Jordan, and supporting maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf. All told, the MEU was spread over three continents conducting split operations for much of its time deployed.
The 15th MEU is a forward deployed, flexible, sea-based Marine air-ground task force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations, in order to support the theater requirements of geographic combatant commanders.