ABOARD USS IWO JIMA --
Marines and sailors from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are conducting multiple, separate training exercises in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
Approximately 800 Marines and sailors offloaded from the ships of the USS Iwo Jima Strike Group Oct. 20 and 21 to conduct bilateral military training exercises. They joined an advanced party of approximately 150 MEU Marines and sailors from USS Carter Hall. While ashore, these Marines will train for coordination, weapons and unit exercises during the next several days.
Earlier this month, more than 100 MEU Marines and sailors from USS San Antonio also went ashore Oct. 12, to conduct training exercises. Consisting mostly of heavy vehicles such as the Assault Amphibian Vehicle and the M1A1 Abrams Battle Tank, Marine units in Kuwait will focus on exercises utilizing these types of equipment at Camp Buehring.
These training events are both opportunities and a feature exclusive to a MEU, explained 26th MEU Executive Officer LtCol. Wes Capdepon, officer in charge of the evolution.
"These exercises let us get off ship for a while and stretch our legs," Capdepon said. "We spent a rigorous six-months honing our skills and this type of training reinforces those lessons. It also introduces this unique environment to Marines who haven't been here before, which is excellent because conditions here are much different than at Camp Lejeune. Our young leaders will now incorporate what they learn here into their planning and training here in the Middle East."
"But more importantly," continued Capdepon, "it shows the flexibility of the 26th MEU. The fact that we're able to conduct multiple operations in several different locations shows the versatility only a unit like this can display."