Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From The TANK

From Camp Pendleton to Al Anbar [W. Thomas Smith Jr.]

Far too many Americans seem to either not grasp or not appreciate the capabilities of our deployed combat forces, what they actually do on deployment, and the impact they have on our global interests in very short blocks of time.

. The 2,200 Marines and sailors of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) — which includes Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (yes, these men fought in Fallujah), Combat Logistics Battalion 13, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 — provide a great example of what I'm talking about.

. What these Marines — the last piece of U.S. Army general David Petraeus' "surge" force — have accomplished over the past two-and-half months (actually beyond that) is nothing short of amazing.

. So I've put together a quick chronological run-down of the 13th MEU's activities over the past several weeks. Let's take a look:

. Up until April 10th of this year, the 13th MEU was training in-and-around Camp Pendleton, California for a multitude of different combat operational scenarios, including training for ops in the desert and mountains, amphibious-raid training, ship-boarding and counterterrorism training, even urban-combat and security workups in some of Southern California's commercial districts.
  • On April 10, the 13th MEU (SOC) boarded the ships of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group in San Diego for points west. At sea, Marines continued training (martial arts, weapons skills, counter-terrorism, Arabic language, etc.), lifting weights, running, daily PT, and generally keeping their weapons clean and their spaces and equipment squared away. Let me add, as a former deployed-Marine, Marines spend a lot of time cleaning weapons.
  • April 30: The 13th MEU was in Guam where several Marines and sailors participated in two construction projects: hammering, nailing, painting, putting up fences, planting trees.
  • May 12: The 13th MEU was in Singapore where Marines and sailors packed computers and food bound for the Philippines and Thailand. They also helped locals with minor construction work, also hedgetrimming, gardening, and general landscaping.
  • May 19: The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, including the 13th MEU, linked up with the U.S. 5th Fleet.
  • May 23: The 5th Fleet, including its seaborne 13th MEU, conducted fleet exercises in the Persian Gulf off the Iranian coast in a huge show of U.S. Naval force (You'll recall Mario Loyola was talking about the Persian Gulf "show of force" here, and we discussed it further here.). And I'll bet there were Marines cleaning weapons during the exercises.
  • May 27: The 13th MEU disembarked from the Expeditionary Strike Group onto Kuwaiti soil, and began lots of back-to-back combat training.
  • Early to mid-June: The 13th MEU was rolling into Iraq and moving into position in Al Anbar.
  • Today: The 13th MEU is conducting combat operations in Iraq. And, yes, when there is downtime, Marines are cleaning weapons.

So what exactly is a MEU? Find out here. And what are the 13th MEU's capabilities? Find out here.

06/26 04:18 PM

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