SAN DIEGO --
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit started a 12-day exercise with the Navy's Amphibious Squadron Five aboard amphibious ships, working together at sea for the first time since the unit formed a complete Marine air-ground task force in May.
After embarking USS Makin Island and USS New Orleans docked in San Diego, the services are expected to sail out from the Pacific coast to plan and conduct training missions from the sea, landing a variety of aircraft and landing craft on Pendleton's shores, and operating as far inland as Yuma, Ariz.
The exercise is also the first time the unit has gone to sea since assuming operational control of Battalion Landing Team 3/1, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.
"We have taken full advantage of several opportunities to train with our Navy counterparts over the last several months," said Col. Michael R. Hudson, the 11th MEU's commanding officer. "This iteration of training is specifically focused on our staff's ability to plan and execute together from ship, as a well-oiled, synchronized, blue-green team."
The MEU's pre-deployment training cycle contains land-based training and three sea-based exercises designed to prepare the service members for their deployment to the Western Pacific, Middle East and Horn of Africa regions this fall.
The MEU's mission is to provide a rapid-response forward deployed force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime special operations from the sea, by surface or by air.
"After successful complex land-based exercises at Camp Pendleton and more recently at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, we are eager to embrace our amphibious heritage and train at sea to ensure that we are able to execute all missions assigned by the combatant commander while we are forward deployed," Hudson said.
During this two-week period, the MEU will conduct supporting-arms live-fire training -- controlling helicopters, firing howitzers and dropping ordnance from AV-8B Harriers. The unit will also train to wrest seagoing vessels from pirates and conduct amphibious assaults, helicopter-borne raids, personnel recovery, humanitarian aid and noncombatant evacuations.
USS Makin Island, along with USS New Orleans, USS Pearl Harbor and Amphibious Squadron 5 form the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, the Navy or "blue-side" partner to the Marines' "green-side."
For more information, contact the 11th MEU public affairs officer at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the unit website at www.11thmeu.usmc.mil or follow us on Twitter @11thmeu.