MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJUENE, N.C. -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a field training exercise here April 9-13 in preparation for its 2007 deployment.
Though the field location was less than a mile from the headquarters building, Marines and Sailors from the unit set up and used the command post as they would have in a real-world situation.
Sergeant Major Andrew L. Yagle, 26th MEU Sergeant Major, said the unit does these exercises prior to the pre-deployment training cycle to ensure the command element staff meshes together into a cohesive unit.
"It's important to be prepared so when we do chop and pick up the MSEs [major subordinate elements] they will see the command element looking professional and prepared, as the command element should be," Yagle said.
The exercise gave many of the command element's new staff members their first chance to use MEU command and control capabilities from a forward command post.
Lieutenant Col. James R. Brown III, commanding officer of the 26th MEU, said the exercise helped to work out some of the potential logistical and technical problems it may face in advance of deployment.
"The key was to identify areas we would have problems in and provide a solution to those issues," Brown said.
He said the exercise gave the unit an idea of how much electrical power it needed, as well as air conditioning and heating requirements. The exercise also allowed the unit to gauge an accurate and realistic timeline for establishing the command post in a forward area, he said.
Master Sgt. Kevin B. Shaw, 26th MEU Headquarters Commandant, was in charge of setting up the command post. He said his priority was to ensure the 26th MEU has everything it needs to forward deploy.
Shaw also pointed out that the unit is utilizing its new unit operations center (UOC) tent package.
"We are still learning how to best deploy the UOC system for us," he said. "The system comes with a large equipment package and we are still trying to figure out which equipment we will use."
The MEU will order more tents to better accommodate the needs of the staff based on what the unit learned from the exercise, he said.
The MEU will implement lessons learned from this exercise in future exercises and ultimately in the field on deployment, Yagle said.
"We've learned the footprint of the Command Element and just how much space we need," he said. "We will be better prepared for the next exercise and in theatre."