Photo Information

Reconnaissance Marines with Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepare to aerially insert from a C-130 Hercules aircraft onto a specified objective area located in Southern Calif., June 13, 2016, as part of a reconnaissance and surveillance mission. The mission was conducted during the MEU’s Realistic Urban Training exercise, which is held in preparation for the MEU’s upcoming Western Pacific 16-2 deployment to the Pacific and Central Commands’ areas of operation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Devan K. Gowans)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Devan Gowans

A RUT Above the Rest; 11th MEU MRF Conducts Urban Raid and Reconnaissance Training

28 Jul 2016 | Lance Cpl. Devan K. Gowans 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

RUT is the first training exercise in the MEU’s deployment work-up cycle where the command element, air combat element, and MRF of the 11th MEU harnesses their collective capabilities during a scenario-based training exercise in field and urban environments.

One of the MRF’s core identities is that it’s a raid and reconnaissance force. During RUT the MRF had the opportunity to exercise that core capability and apply it within urban environments.

Throughout RUT, the MRF strengthened their skills as the MEU’s primary limited-scale raid force through situational training exercises or STX conducted in predominantly urban environments throughout the Southwestern United States.

"The complexity of operating in high-density urban areas with multiple-story buildings is a challenge for raid forces," said Col. Clay C. Tipton, commanding officer, 11th MEU. "RUT enables our Marines to meet that challenge head on, and leverage the appropriate level of combat power from the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to accomplish the mission."

These STX are scenarios that allow the MRF to employ its core capability by first clandestinely inserting onto a specified area, conducting reconnaissance and surveillance of the objective site. Once they gather enough intelligence, they’re able to pass to the MEU commander a detailed, real-time report of enemy presence and geography on the battlefield.

“Reconnaissance and surveillance is the backbone of what we do,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Santo, communications chief with MRF, 11th MEU. “[R&S teams] go out and seek the information needed to conduct a raid prior to its execution. If we’re going after a high-value target, the R&S teams can positively identify that individual. They can also relay key locations, enemy disposition, enemy strength, and patterns of life. Without all of that information, a raid force is going in blind.”

Once the necessary battlefield intelligence collected by R&S teams is deemed sufficient by the MEU commander to execute the raid, the MRF assault element will insert onto the objective area by land, sea or air, conduct the raid, and extract all forces in a specified amount of time.

The raids conducted by the MRF during RUT began with STX 1, which took place in the mountainous regions of Southern California, and set the conditions that allowed the MRF to conduct R&S on a small village and suspected enemy compound, which resulted in a raid on the compound to neutralize a simulated terrorist training camp.

STX 2 consisted of R&S and a raid conducted on an industrial building in Reno, Nevada, and incorporated members of the Reno City Police Department SWAT team who acted as friendly members of a host nation security force.

Working bilaterally with the Reno SWAT team during the raid allowed the Marines to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures with a partner force and simulated operating in an urban environment alongside a foreign military unit.

According to Santo, learning to operate alongside a partner nation while deployed provides the MEU with additional military support during an operation, as well as a greater insight of the local area and populace.

These are conditions the MEU must be prepared to encounter while operating abroad. The realistic urban training aspect of the STXs gave MRF Marines the opportunity to work in austere, built-up environments, and an opportunity to conduct short and long-range raids.

“That has a lot of complexity to it and RUT sets us up for that success to hone in our skills that we have as a maritime raid force and to execute appropriately,” said Santo.

Following RUT, Marines with the 11th MEU will embark onto U.S. Navy ships belonging to the Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group in July for Amphibious Squadron – MEU Integration, a two-week exercise coupling the Marines and sailors of the 11th MEU and Amphibious Squadron 5 for the first time during their pre-deployment training cycle.

The 11th MEU has three major training exercises left to complete, all of which are at sea, before shoving off on their Western Pacific 16-2 deployment later this year.

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.

Read Biography

Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

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.

Read Biography

Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

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.

Read Biography