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U.S. Marines assigned to Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, maneuver through a field to board MV-22B Ospreys attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 165 (Reinforced), 15th MEU, following a long range raid during Realistic Urban Training exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, California, Aug. 24, 2023. RUT is a land-based predeployment exercise which enhances the integration and collective capability of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force while providing the 15th MEU an opportunity to train and execute operations in an urban environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sydney Smith)

Photo by Sgt. Sydney Smith

15th MEU Completes Exercise Across Southwestern United States

14 Sep 2023 | 1st Lt. Robert Nanna 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Arizona - The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted its first exercise as a composited Marine Air-Ground Task Force across the Southwestern U.S., Aug. 17-28, 2023.

Known as Realistic Urban Training, RUT is a land-based predeployment exercise that brings together the elements of the 15th MEU to integrate the unique individual and unit skills and develop the MEU’s collective proficiency to operate as a MAGTF and respond rapidly to crises.

The 15th MEU is comprised of a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 1/5; a Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15; and an Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 165 (Reinforced).

Also supporting the 15th MEU during RUT was Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 225, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, bringing a squadron of F-35B Lightning II aircraft to conduct missions such as electronic attack and expeditionary strike. VMFA-225 has since composited as part of the 15th MEU on Sept. 8.

RUT was conducted over 11 days in seven locations across Arizona, California, and Nevada. The various and often concurrent missions that were planned and executed during the exercise included amphibious raids, expeditionary strikes, tactical recoveries of aircraft and personnel, and a military assisted departure from a simulated U.S. consulate.

“RUT is the first ‘prime-time training’ event where we bring the full MAGTF together to plan and execute as a team,” said Col. Sean Dynan, commanding officer of the 15th MEU. “Travelling to Yuma provided us the training facilities to conduct expeditionary operations and proved to be a summertime leadership laboratory as we thrived during 115-degree heat and a hurricane. The lessons learned here set a solid foundation for our future training and deployment.”

In addition to the scenario-driven exercise ran by Expeditionary Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, the elements of the 15th MEU conducted unit-level sustainment training at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. The sustainment training allowed the units to refine core skills, from individual fast rope and weapons employment, up to live-fire maneuver at the squad level, all while operating in an unfamiliar environment at YPG.

Adding real-world complexity to the exercise were extreme heat as well as the threats of flash flooding and destructive winds caused by Tropical Storm Hilary. In response to the tropical storm, the 15th MEU planned and executed a destructive weather mitigation plan. This required detailed planning and synchronized actions of the MAGTF as an additional problem set to the scenario training. The 15th MEU moved personnel, aircraft, and equipment from expeditionary sites to hardened structures to protect them. Since MCAS Yuma and YPG are both located in open desert areas, the winds of Hilary gusted up to 65 mph at times, whipping sand and shaking buildings.

Once given the “all clear,” the entire 15th MEU quickly redeployed units to resume normal operations, without a loss of training or capability.

“No plan survives first contact, and that held true for our original exercise timeline,” said Maj. Peter Shelton, 15th MEU air operations officer and the action officer for the destructive weather mitigation plan. “What the MEU was able to do in about 48 hours – plan, move people and aircraft, wait, and then resume – is remarkable. Though not a training objective, it showed what immense tasks the MEU can undertake, and was a great repetition for us by simulating what could happen in the real world.”

The added friction spurred the need for the approximately 2,500 Marines and Sailors to integrate, collaborate, and overcome obstacles they could face throughout the upcoming deployment. While RUT is the final land-based exercise for the 15th MEU, it is the first of four MEU-level predeployment training exercises that will be completed over the coming months.

The 15th MEU is a flexible, sea-based MAGTF capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations to support the requirements of geographic combatant commanders.

For more information contact the 15th MEU Communication Strategy and Operations office at (760) 763-4505.

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