Arabian Gulf --
ARABIAN GULF (June 18, 2016) - The Marines and Sailors of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), also known as the Fighting 13th, loaded onto watercraft and aircraft to begin sustainment training in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, June 12. The Fighting 13th has been conducting operations in the Gulf of Aden and will go ashore to conduct Marine Air-Ground Task Force-level sustainment training for roughly three weeks.
“The 13th MEU is conducting collective skills training for the air combat element, ground combat element and logistics combat element, as well as focusing on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) decontamination to culminate in a combined arms live-fire exercise,” said Capt. Matthew P. Brousseau, an operations officer with the 13th MEU.
In preparation for the training evolution, roughly 700 Marines, from each of the Fighting 13th’s major subordinate commands, will disembark along with the equipment necessary to accomplish their tasks.
“We will be off loading various kinds of tactical vehicles, such as HMMWVs, MTVRs, light armored vehicles and forklifts,” said Gunnery Sgt. Thaddeus M. King, logistics chief with the 13th MEU.
The Fighting 13th will be using the equipment so the MEU as a whole can sharpen their skill sets. The ground combat element, logistics combat element and air combat element have a role to play while conducting missions so the sustainment training will be geared towards their specific responsibilities.
“Each subordinate command has their own training timeline specific to their missions; the battalion landing team will be conducting live-fire ranges; the combat logistics battalion will be providing support in the form of transportation, establishing an ammunition holding area and medical station; and the air combat element will be conducting insertion of personnel, gear and other assets needed to complete the training,” said King.
As the spearhead of the MEU, the ground combat element must exercise all of its assets to stay sharp and lethal. The sustainment training will provide an opportunity for all the pieces of the ground combat element to maintain to their combat effectiveness.
“The ground combat element will be offloading their battalion landing team forward … 81mm mortars, 120mm mortars, a rifle platoon, light armored reconnaissance platoon, combined anti-armor team and amphibious assault vehicles,” said Brousseau.
While the live-fire ranges and maneuvers occur, the logistics combat element will be conducting training focused on supporting the ground combat element and air combat element.
“The combat logistics battalion will be providing logistics support by setting up water production for fresh water and establishing an ammunition holding area,” said Brousseau. “Their focus is to hone their own skills by establishing a beach support area as well as a logistics support area.”
The non-infantry specific Marines will be conducting support-based training, said King. Generator mechanics will offload to ensure that the tents on the ground have air conditioning for the Marines between training events and water production specialists to ensure there is fresh water.
The logistics combat element isn’t the only element providing support. Along with conducting internal training, the air combat element will be inserting troops, gear and equipment during training.
“The air combat element will be focusing on flight leadership qualifications … refueling operations, airfield security, low altitude air defense, terrain flying and landing in unknown [landing zones],” said Brousseau.
The Fighting 13th will also ensure its Marines are prepared for all conditions and bring the training to a close with a culminating event.
“We’re expecting to sustain some of our collective skills while refreshing the abilities of those entities, so refreshing our CBRN decontamination as well as squad to platoon size tactics and defense,” said Brousseau. “[We will be] integrating the three elements for a MAGTF-sized training evolution that culminates in a combined arms live-fire event.”
The 13th MEU has integrated its elements at other times since deploying, adding to its legacy during Western Pacific Deployment 16-1 by overcoming obstacles like the freezing temperatures during Ssang Yong 2016 in South Korea and grueling sun during sustainment training in Djibouti.
“The 13th MEU has been exceptional during WESTPAC 16-1, between conducting Hawaii sustainment training, conducting Exercise Ssang Yong 2016 in South Korea, Exercise Eager Lion 2016 in Jordan, as well as sustainment training in Djibouti, said Brousseau.”
As they begin their offload from the USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, the Fighting 13th will train to further increase their combat effectiveness and ability to overcome any obstacle to complete their mission.