11th MEU (SOC) assaults desert objective

27 Nov 2007 | 11th MEU Public Affairs 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

After two weeks of rigorous training, the Marines lay poised behind their weapons on a ridgeline overlooking the battlefield.

From here the Marines of Company I, Battalion Landing Team 3/1, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), watch the beginnings of the battle unfold.  As they wait for the signal to engage, a plethora of MEU assets -- infantry, tanks, Amphibious Assault Vehicles, Light Armored Reconnaissance Vehicles and helicopters -- can be seen advancing in the desert's horizon, ready to attack a notional enemy force during the 11th MEU's final live-fire exercise here.

?The final exercise brought all the parts of the BLT together into one combined attack.  We got to work more as a whole unit,? said 2nd Lt. Trusten Connor, 3rd Platoon Commander, Company I, BLT 3/1, 11th MEU (SOC).

Bringing a battalion-sized force together to fight successfully did not happen immediately.  Rather, Marines began their two weeks in the field with training focused on a much smaller scale.   Scattered on ranges throughout the desert in the U.S. Central Command region, the Marines began to refine their battle skills at the small unit level.

?We did squad, platoon and company attacks in preparation for this final exercise.  Start small, finish big,? Connor said.  ?It helps to build confidence in the Marines with live fire, showing them what it is like to have that responsibility.?

Responsibility for things such as clearing a simulated minefield with a line charge made up of more than 1,000 pounds of explosives.  In real battle, such action could mean the difference between success and failure in a unit's mission.  Not to mention, the sight of 1,000 pounds of explosives blowing up is not something usually seen before by most junior Marines.   

?The Marines got to see and do a lot of things they very seldom get to experience.  It was nice for them to see an assault at the battalion-level with air support and all the other elements involved,? Connor said.

As tanks fired their main gun and AAVs fired their heavy machineguns, infantry Marines advanced and called in artillery and mortars on the "enemy" position.  A Huey helicopter swooped down firing rockets as LAVs sped forward, firing away.  The combination of firepower was the result of coordination planned well above the squad level.

?Working with all the assets involved in the assault was great.  It?s a good chance for us to see everyone else?s role in an battalion-level assault,? said Pfc. Matt Christenson, grenadier, 1st Platoon, Company I, BLT 3/1, 11th MEU (SOC).

Bringing the training to a close, the final exercise validated two-weeks of arduous training as well as providing the junior Marines a valuable experience. 

"As a MAGTF we integrate our forces into a combined arms team and focus our combat power against an adversary at a precise time and location," said Col Anthony M. Haslam, commanding officer, 11th MEU (SOC).  "This synchronization on the battlefield the is key to our success.  As Marines we work to perfect this daily and this FINEX gave us the opportunity, in a live-fire environment, to bring it all together."

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
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LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
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Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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