AL QUWEIRA, Jordan --
The very nature of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarking thousands of Marines on Navy amphibious assault ships, means that Marines are, by rote, exposed to the Navy way of life; to watches, to flight quarters, to a life of passageways, ladder wells, decks, and hatches. Occasionally, though, it goes in reverse.
A number of junior officers from the USS Carter Hall accompanied the Marines of the 26th MEU, joining them in the deserts of Jordan during Exercise Eager Lion 2013 from June 9 to June 20. They attached to the platoons of Company K, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th MEU. Heading wherever the Marines go, the officers are here to gain experience working with the Marines in their natural environment ashore.
“The theory is that as naval officers, the more we understand about our mission, to get Marines ashore, the more effective we can be as a whole,” said Ensign Alex Cramer, USS Carter Hall main propulsion division officer, from Knoxville, Tenn.
Naval officers are not typically exposed to the Marine Corps in an operational capacity, aside from transporting the Marines, rarely leaving the ship during a MEU deployment.
“I usually just see [the Marines] launch on a screen. I wanted to see what the Marines actually do, here on the other side,” said Ensign Irvin Pajarillo, USS Carter Hall combat information officer from Arnold, Md.
There are currently four naval officers from the ship ashore, with plans to rotate them out for another four after a span of days, allowing all of the Carter Hall’s junior officers to experience life in the dirt by the end of Eager Lion.
“We all volunteered to go for the whole time,” said Ensign Ethan Strauser, USS Carter Hall gunnery officer from Chesapeake, Va. “Sometimes, it’s good to have a little time away from ship.” The officers, assigned to the platoons as they are, are undergoing instructions in the basics of Marine life. Living outside, going on patrols, the basics of military operations in the high, dead-dry hills of Jordan, as well as differences between Marine and Navy leadership. “You get to see different leadership styles, different issues they have to deal with out here,” said Strauser.
“As a Navy officer new to the fleet, you’re kind of expected to rely on the chief petty officers,” said Ensign George Stevenson, USS Carter Hall repair division officer, from Twinsburg, Ohio. “As a Marine second lieutenant, you’re immediately expected to lead, to run that platoon.”
With that furthered understanding of the Marine Corps, the officers said they hoped to increase the efficiency of operations between the Navy and the Marine Corps in the future.
“Some of our guys may not understand how much responsibility the Marine Corps gives its sergeants and corporals,” said Stevenson. “Maybe we can learn something.”