RAS AL KHAIR, Saudi Arabia --
U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), along with members of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces officially concluded exercise Red Reef 15 with a joint demonstration in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dec. 16, 2014.
Red Reef 15 is a biennial, bilateral exercise between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, set to increase proficiency, expand levels of military-to-military cooperation and promote long-term regional stability, interoperability and freedom of navigation.
Over the nine-day span, 11th MEU personnel worked, trained and lived alongside Saudi Marines from the 1st, 3rd, 5th Saudi Marine Battalions and the Saudi Naval Special Forces.
Supporting the Marines of the landing force were U.S. Navy assets from Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Five, including the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) and the dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45), both providing ship-to-shore connectors and landing platforms for aircraft in support of the training.
“Exercises like this are great for our two countries, but what’s really important, is coming together as [U.S. and Saudi] Marines sharing this training and our cultures,” said 1st Lt. Cory Moyer, 81mm mortar platoon commander, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th MEU.
From joint mortar ranges and simulated assaults through urban environments, to medical training and casualty evacuations, U.S. and Saudi Marines honed their interoperability and demonstrated commitment to regional partnership.
Speaking after the closing ceremony, Lt. Col. Eddy I. Hansen, executive officer, 11th MEU, lauded the performance by the participants from both nations.
“We are both better for having trained together. The important thing is we learn how to work together, learn how the other does business because we may have to work together in the future,” said Hansen.
As helicopters roared overhead, and waves off U.S. and Saudi Marine rushed to their objectives, the assembled crowd, which included distinguished visitors and members of the media, marveled at precision of the demonstrators.
“It was impressive to watch, it looked like it was well rehearsed and a lot of work was put into it,” said Sgt. Gabriel Valencia, team leader with the Signals Support Team, 11th MEU.
With exercise Red Reef 15 over, Marines from the 11th MEU will return to their ships and continue to operate as a sea-based, quick reaction force in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.