CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Leathernecks with Combat Logistics Battalion 15 and India Battery, Battalion Landing Team 2/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, invaded Camp Pendleton’s Kilo Two combat town in an effort to sharpen their skills in conducting humanitarian assistance operations (HAO), January 24th and 25th.
Humanitarian assistance operations are designed to provide relief during times of natural or man-made situations aiming to ease human pain, disease or hunger while preventing loss of human life and property damage.
“The purpose of this training is to prepare Marines for the fluid environment that we go into when we conduct a humanitarian assistance mission,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marco Gomez, Maintenance Officer, CLB-15.
A key point stressed during the training was the cultural aspect, to include learning crucial phrases and knowing what actions the local nationals regard as offensive, added Gomez a 34 year-old native of San Francisco.
One unique twist to the training is teaching Marines how to deal with a crowd of people that are not necessarily hostile.
“In a combat zone you expect to get shot at, but this is unique because you have a complete interaction with people that are not always hostile. We go into an environment to help people, not knowing if it will escalate to a hostile atmosphere,” said Gomez.
Recent events such as the December 2004 tsunami relief in Indonesia provide real-world events that are on the Marines’ mind, added Gomez.
For the Marines who were the “boots on the ground” this training provided realistic scenarios that completely immersed them in what they might encounter during a HAO.
“It’s awesome training … it feels real,” said Pfc Adam Skidmore, an artilleryman with India Battery BLT 2/5.
“I’ve learned how to take someone down non-lethally and prevent me from injuring them and we’ve learned how to control a crowd using shields and batons,” said Skidmore, a 20 year-old native of Orange, Calif.
“It’s awesome to know I can go in and help,” added Skidmore.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., is comprised of roughly 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is task organized to be a forward deployed quick response force, capable of accomplishing numerous missions around the globe. The 15th MEU is currently in its pre-deployment training phase for an impending summer deployment.