Photo Information

Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element conduct gas chamber training in order to fulfill requirements for their annual training aboard Fort Pickett, Va., March 24, 2010. The entire 26th MEU consisting of BLT 3/8, CLB 26, and VMM-266 will spend the next 6 months doing training for their upcoming deployment. (Official United States Marine Corps Photo by Lance Corporal Tammy K. Hineline)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tammy Hineline

26th MEU rolls through Fort Pickett, prepares for next step in pre-deployment training

5 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Santiago G. Colon Jr.

Marines and sailors with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit departed Fort Pickett, Va., April 5, after 14 days of pre-deployment training. The training aboard Fort Pickett was the first unit-wide field exercise.

The MEU Marines fired nearly every weapon in the inventory and conducted individual and small unit training to certify across a wide range of skills, which included Humvee (HMMWV) Egress Assistance Training (HEAT), foot and vehicle maneuvers, urban operations, and breaching and demolitions. The MEU also received in-depth training on improvised explosive devices (IED), qualified in the gas chamber, participated in the Combat Marksmanship Program, and other training evolutions.

The Fort Pickett exercise was not just for combat training but also a chance for the MEU Marines and Sailors to build unit cohesion said Maj. Randall K. Jones, logistics officer for the 26th MEU.

“This was the first pre-deployment exercise and the point was to remove Marines from their homes to focus on training and building those relationships within the unit,” said Jones.

The positive outlook and attitude maintained by the Marines and Sailors throughout the training ensured every facet of the event was a success, added Jones.

From Fort Pickett, the MEU will return to Camp Lejeune, but no rest is scheduled. Elements of the MEU will begin advanced training at Camp Lejeune and other locations including aboard the ships of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group on which the MEU will deploy in the fall.

The MEU is well on its way to being fully prepared for deployment said Col. Mark J. Desens, commanding officer for 26th MEU.

“By all accounts, we have done an outstanding job,” said Desens. “I have seen some really great progress. We are where we want to be as far as power, connectivity, and training.

“It’s now a win. We just have to ensure it works next time.”