Camp Pendleton, Calif. -- Marines and sailors of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) recently completed a two-week inter-operability training exercise (InterOp) that brought elements of its Maritime Special Purpose Force together for the first time.
The MSPF has trained with I Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group since March in preparation for this and other exercises that will make it a direct action and specialized missions force provider to the MEU.
According to Col. Brian D. Beaudreault, 15th MEU Commanding Officer, the MSPF is essentially a miniature Marine Air Ground Task Force that possesses all the capabilities of a MEU, but on a smaller scale.
During InterOp, Marines from Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines (BLT 2/4), 1st Force Reconnaissance Battalion, and the 15th MEU’s command element improved their ability to link up and work together through a variety of training scenarios. Additionally, the exercise incorporated a command and control piece that gave the MSPF the opportunity to work with the MEU staff for the first time as well.
“I like to consider the first courses the ‘walking’ stage for the MSPF,” said Beaudreault of the pre-InterOp training. “InterOp was us moving into the ‘jogging’ stage, and we hope to be running by the time we get into our at-sea training periods.”
The training culminated in a raid scenario set against the backdrop of an Iraqi village with numerous actors hired to play the roles of Iraqi nationals. Making the scenario even more realistic was the use of simmunitions, plastic bullets filled with a colored substance similar to paintballs, forcing Marines participating in the training to exercise proper weapons control and safety throughout the scenario.
The MEU’s aviation combat element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced) also participated in the training by providing aircraft and planners that played a vital role in the evacuation of casualties.
According to Beaudreault, this exercise synchronized all of the essential elements of missions; once the at-sea periods begin, it will also incorporate the capability of ship-to-shore movement that Marine Expeditionary Units are required to possess.
“Overall I think each of the InterOp missions was very challenging but successful, and have set us up to perform more challenging exercises in the future,” said Beaudreault.
The 15th MEU has several scheduled training exercises prior to deployment to the Western Pacific later this year.