Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ty-Michael Maes, left, a team leader with the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance detachment, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and native of Lindenhurst, New York, directs his fire team during a bilateral live-fire assault exercise with Saudi Marines as part of exercise Red Reef 15 in Ras Al Khair Saudi Arabia. Red Reef is part of a routine theater security cooperation engagement plan between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Royal Saudi Naval Forces that serves as an excellent opportunity to strengthen tactical proficiency in critical mission areas and support long-term regional security. (U.S. Marine Corps photos by Gunnery Sgt. Rome M. Lazarus/Released)

Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Rome M. Lazarus

Red Reef 15 Closes With Joint Demonstration

24 Dec 2014 | Capt. Josh Diddams 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

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.

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
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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 DeBarrĀ 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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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit