Photo Information

U.S. Marines with 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, drive an Ultra Light Tactical Vehicle during a mission rehearsal exercise as part of Steel Knight 23.2 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Nov. 30, 2023. Steel Knight maintains and sharpens I Marine Expeditionary Force as America’s expeditionary force in readiness – organized, trained and equipped to respond to any crisis, anytime, anywhere. This exercise will certify 5th Marines to be forward-postured in Australia as Marine Rotational Force - Darwin, a six-month deployment during which Marines train with Australian allies and facilitate rapid response to crises and contingencies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Torres)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Torres

Steel Knight 23.2: 5th Marines certifies to deploy during mission rehearsal exercise 

18 Dec 2023 | Lance Cpl. Juan Torres PEO Land Systems

The work for deploying Marines doesn’t start when they first set foot in their destination. The work starts months in advance as they train and rehearse for the possible mission sets they’ll encounter while deployed.

As part of Exercise Steel Knight 23.2, elements of 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and Combat Logistics Battalion 5, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, were certified during a mission rehearsal exercise, Nov. 27 - Dec. 8, for an upcoming deployment to Australia as part of Marine Rotational Force - Darwin.

During the MRX, the Marines were evaluated on their performance accomplishing tasks they are likely to see during their six-month deployment in which Marines train with Australian allies to facilitate rapid responses to crises and contingencies. 

“We deployed forward, we established our command post and then we had a series of scenarios that would replicate potential missions that we would face when we deploy to Darwin, Australia, in support of the Indo-Pacific theater,” explained Col. Brian Mulvihill, the commanding officer of 5th Marines.

As Steel Knight began, the regimental headquarters, along with CLB-5 and 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, relocated from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to Yuma, Arizona. There, they set up a command post and continued to train.

“With Steel Knight being the certification exercise for the MRF-D Marine Air-Ground Task Force, it is replicating potential missions that we would see when we deploy,” explained Mulvihill. “Like the reinforcement of an embassy or the conduct of operational logistics.”

The Marines of Fox Company, 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, planned and rehearsed in the desert of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma before loading into MV-22B Ospreys assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 164, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, flying to a simulated embassy at the Infantry Immersion Training at Camp Pendleton. The company established security and then reacted to a simulated mass casualty event, providing medical aid to civilian role-players before evacuating them out of the embassy.

The Marines and Sailors with CLB-5 supported Fox Co. with the embassy reinforcement by setting up an evacuation control center to process, screen, evacuate and if necessary, provide medical attention to any noncombatants. The role-players simulated local populace and provided friction points by skipping others in line and verbally attacking the Marine and Sailors, who had to react calmly and professionally to keep the ECP functioning.

The Marines of Echo Co., 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, were tasked with a simulated airfield seizure. After spending time planning and rehearsing in Yuma, they loaded up onto MV-22B Ospreys and were inserted directly into the area of the airfield they needed to seize. After taking control of the airfield, they held a defensive posture for two days, occasionally taking simulated enemy contact. 

When the MRX concluded after two weeks, the Marines and Sailors of every unit involved were that much more prepared to deploy and serve as first responders in any situation that may come up.

“First and foremost, any time a Marine unit deploys we consider ourselves a deterrent force,” said Mulvihill. “Whether it is a Marine Expeditionary Unit, whether it is MRF-D, it does not matter. The implication that a Marine combat unit forward is able to respond to aggression against our allies and our interests is a deterrent force.”

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