FORT PICKETT, Va. --
Approximately 2,200 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed a three-week training evolution at Fort Pickett, Va., Wednesday.
The training exercise was the MEU’s first major workup in preparation for their upcoming deployment this fall.
Overall the training was a success, said Lt. Col. John W. Capdepon, executive officer of the MEU. He went on to say the training was an integral first step in the MEU’s pre-deployment cycle.
"It was definitely a success," Capdepon said. "When the 26th MEU takes an opportunity to bring all its (major subordinate elements) to an offsite location, such as Fort Pickett, Va., it provides us with a training venue that allows us to work on our basic skills and the requirements that theater commanders require Marines and sailors to go into country with."
Each major subordinate element of the MEU completed multiple initial training requirements in its time at Fort Pickett.
"This is an offsite location that provides us with a great variety of live-fire ranges and training venues," Capdepon said. "Additionally it allows us to be able to train 24/7. This allows us to complete the training requirements, at least the individual training requirements, for the pre-deployment training program."
During their time here, the Marines of the MEU's Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 2/6, participated in everything from patrolling to combined-arms live fire exercises.
"Some of the things we did include supported squad attacks, fire-support coordination exercises, humanitarian assistance training, mass casualty training, combat marksmanship program (and) tank gunnery," said Lt. Col. Andrew Kostic, the commanding officer of BLT 2/6. "The Marines did well. We have a lot of new people in leadership billets and a lot of junior people in leadership billets and this allowed those individuals to grow and develop."
This training was an essential part of the Marines' preparation to support the Global War on Terror.
"Coming from here we have a good foundation for the rest of our training," Kostic said.
The Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 26 also completed several stages of training here.
During their time at Fort Pickett, the Marines of CLB-26 participated in a mass casualty evacuation exercise, non-combatant evacuation operation, practiced for a humanitarian assistance operation as well as refined their individual skills with different weapon systems.
"What I want to leave here with is a team that has confidence in themselves, in their fellow Marines and sailors and the knowledge that they will be able to face to challenges ahead," said Lt. Col. John Giltz, commanding officer of CLB-26.
Lieutenant Col. Jan January, the executive officer of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Rein), said the Aviation Combat Element’s time here was also a success.
"We went to Pickett to work with the Battalion Landing Team and the Combat Logistics Battalion at a walk, crawl level for the first time," January said, adding, "The training was very good, it's always great to work in a different environment."
Overall, every element of the MEU met its assigned mission, Capdepon said.
"For the most part we were successful in completing all the training requirements that we wanted to train, our statistics have grown immensely," Capdepon said. "So this readiness of the MEU continues to increase by using a venue such as off-site training here at Fort Pickett, Va.," he said.
Additionally, it was the first opportunity for the Marines of the MEU's subordinate commands to work together, meet their counterparts and begin forging the relationships the MEU will need to remain 'A Certain Force In An Uncertain World.' The training at Fort Pickett was only the first in the six-month pre-deployment training period that will form the disparate elements of the 26th MEU into one, cohesive force capable of executing any mission with which it may be tasked.
The MEU will depart in late fall on a routine, scheduled deployment in support of the Global War on Terror.
For more information, news and video regarding the 26th MEU, visit www.26meu.usmc.mil.