VICTORVILLE, Calif. -- The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted its Training in an Urban Environment exercise here, Oct. 11-20, in preparation for their upcoming deployment.
TRUE is part of a routine, six-month training cycle for the 11th MEU's Command Element and its major subordinate air, ground and service support elements. During TRUE, the command element and its subordinate elements trained in mock urban environments and completed three scenarios designed to prepare them for the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.
Units that took part included Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 (Reinforced), Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, MEU Service Support Group 11 and Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, both from Camp Pendleton.
The exercise gave the elements an opportunity to sharpen their rapid response planning process and is a part of the pre-deployment training program needed by the 11th MEU to become Special Operations Capable qualified. This SOC certification is granted by 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton.
Taking place in the Mojave Desert and away from Camp Pendleton, the training exercises gave the Marines and Sailors a taste of real world operations.
According to Col. John W. Bullard, 11th MEU, commanding officer, TRUE is excellent preparation for deployment because it provides the MEU with "a realistic, unfamiliar urban environment in which to train." Bullard said it is imperative that the 11th MEU conduct this type of training, "in order to be prepared to meet any contingency during deployment."
The purpose of TRUE was to enhance urban warfare skills taught during the individual and unit training phases. Training included three situational training exercises comprised of Close Quarters Battle practical applications, breaching exercises, urban reconnaissance and surveillance training, aviation urban navigation, aviation assault support, and offensive air support, according to the SOTG Letter of Instruction.
The focus of the exercises was to effectively conduct raids on urban locations and buildings in which suspected terrorist activities were being conducted or planned. Pyrotechnics, scenarios ripped straight from news headlines, and more than twenty Marines and civilian role players were used to add realism to the training.
During one of the raids, Marines and Sailors successfully destroyed a terrorist training camp and destroyed a weapons and explosives factory in another. The third raid took place during a suspected terrorist-planning meeting.
Typically, during these raids, HMM-166 would transport Marines and Sailors aboard their CH-53 Sea Stallions, CH-46 Sea Knights, while UH-1N Hueys, and AH-1W Cobra helicopters would provide support. Out of the Knights and Stallions, a Maritime Special Purpose Force, composed mainly of Force Reconnaissance Marines, would fast rope or rush out of the aircraft and commence with their assault on the objective and maintain security.
At the objective site, Marines would breach doors, clear rooms, collect and destroy weapon caches and detain high valued individuals. Once the mission was successfully completed, the Marines would leave as they came, they would board their aircraft and fly away.
According to Bullard, the training was highly successful because all of the elements of the MEU came together to plan and execute a set of complex scenarios with many working parts.
During a recent Command Element all-hands formation, Bullard congratulated his Marines for a job well done at TRUE, but he reminded them that there was much more training yet to do before they deploy this winter.
The 11th MEU will take part in similar training during a Joint Task Force Exercise and aboard ship in the near future.
"Overall the exercise was good," said Cpl. Christian D. Bauzo, squad leader, 2nd platoon, 1/4. "The exercises were good training for the Marines when we deploy."