26th MEU(SOC) completes first phase of Destined Glory

18 Oct 2000 | Lance Cpl. Allan J. Grdovich

Marines and Sailors from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) completed the first phase of NATO's Exercise Destined Glory 2000 Oct. 18, after conducting several amphibious assaults and training evolutions throughout Turkey.

Destined Glory, a multi-national exercise involving eight countries, is designed to improve joint operations of an amphibious nature in the southern Mediterranean region. More than 21,000 service members, 70 ships, 70 fixed-wing aircraft and 60 helicopters are participating.

The exercise began for the Marines and Sailors of the 26th MEU(SOC) with two amphibious assaults, one in Doganbey, Turkey, and one in Sarosbey, Turkey.

In Doganbey, Marines and Sailors from the 26th MEU(SOC) Battalion Landing Team 2/2's Golf Company deployed from USS Austin and conducted an amphibious assault on the beachhead. The Company secured the beachhead for incoming allied forces, to include Spanish Italian Landing Force (SILF) teams who were conducting a mechanized raid from the North.

Golf Company was reinforced in their assault by Weapons Platoons from BLT 2/2's Echo and Fox Company, while Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 provided rotary-wing close air support. The squadron also provided troop transport for foreign forces during the assault.

Once the first mission was complete, Golf Company Marines and Sailors reinforced basic infantry skills by conducting live-fire exercises, trench clearing and night-and-day land navigation.

Also training at Doganbey was the 26th MEU(SOC)'s MEU Service Support Group 26. Their vehicles provided transportation for several foreign troops, and their Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit turned undrinkable salt water into potable drinking water for Spanish, Italian and American troops. The MSSG Marines even volunteered to pose as injured service members for a Spanish mass casualty evacuation aboard one of their naval vessels.

"The [medical evacuation] was awesome," said DT3 Jessie Orozco, Dental Technician with MSSG-26 and Paramount, Calif., native, who was a simulated casualty. "Their facilities aboard ship were like most hospitals back in the states.

"It was interesting learning about those differences."

For example, if a service member were to break a tooth, the Spanish would evacuate him aboard ship for treatment. The MSSG would treat him through their field medical facility, with no evacuation needed.

Though Golf Company and MSSG-26 were not the only units who learned a few things during the exercise. Farther north, in Sarosbey, Echo Company began their exercise on the same day as Golf Company. They deployed from USS Ashland and conducted an amphibious assault using their mechanical forces. The Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon led the landing. The M1-A1 Abram's Battle Tank Platoon, other elements of Echo Company and an Engineering Detachment followed.

Like Golf Company, the unit began internal training once they secured their objective. For example, they practiced breaching maneuvers and amphibious tactics.

According to Col. Kenneth J. Glueck, Jr., 26th MEU (SOC) commanding officer, the exercise presented an opportunity to employ the split Amphibious Ready Group concept. When the 26th MEU(SOC) and their counterparts Amphibious Squadron Four conduct split ARG operations, ships within the Saipan Amphibious Ready Group, USS Saipan, USS Austin and USS Ashland, can operate independently of one another.

"Split-ARG operations provide a commander with the capability to respond to developing crisis while still maintaining a much larger response force in reserve or focused on an equally important mission," said Glueck.

The training is not over yet, though. The ARG came together after phase one, and on Oct. 21, they began the second and final phase of Exercise Destined Glory.