DOGANBEY, Turkey -- U.S. Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted training for non-combatant evacuation operations with Turkish forces during Exercise Egemen 2015 Oct. 26.
The training, one of multiple events that are part of an overall bilateral training exercise with Turkish forces, focused on the processing and embarkation of personnel during a NEO.
“We practiced the process of securely and safely conducting a NEO and demonstrated it to the Turkish Marines and sailors,” said Cpl. Tyler D. Corbett, a light armored vehicle mechanic with CLB 26, 26th MEU.
Turkish sailors and Marines acted out the roles of non-combatants evacuating the country.
“We ran several processing stations that break down the evacuation process for the non-combatants,” said Corbett.
Each processing point further inspects, documents or clears individuals for evacuation.
The first processing point is outside the administrative area. Marines located there use metal detectors to ensure individuals aren’t armed.
“I worked at the entry control point,” said Corbett. “I checked individual’s identification and did a pre-screening before allowing them to progress to initial processing.”
Evacuees then proceed to the initial processing station and fill out applications.
“They are separated into groups based on whether they’re dignitaries, American citizens or foreign nationals and begin applying for evacuation,” said Corbett.
After this they undergo a more thorough weapons and contraband search, receiving guidance from a Marine.
“During the second screening, they’re asked to remove outer articles of clothing like jackets and are walked through a thorough self-check while a security detail watches for anything suspicious,” said Corbett.
If an individual is cleared at this station, they’ll advance to the registering and embarkation points to be added to a digital database and wait for extraction from the hostile nation.
“They get added to a registry and then standby to embark via the methods available,” said Corbett.
Working with the Turkish challenged the Marines in different ways.
“The language barrier presented challenges early on,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle S. Purington, the motor transportation maintenance chief for CLB 26, 26th MEU. “We were able to coordinate with those that did speak English and use non-verbal communication to finish the training successfully.”
Some of the Turkish officers present at the training were able to provide translation and facilitate directions.
Both U.S. and Turkish senior leadership observed the event.
“It was important for them to see our capabilities and for us to see theirs so we can provide insight to one another and strengthen our capabilities,” said Purington.
The training accomplished several of the CLB’s training goals for the exercise with the Turkish forces.
“These operations are important to helping us understand each other’s cultures better, identifying and working on areas that need improvement and enhancing our partnership with countries we may conduct contingency operations with,” said Purington.
The 26th MEU and Turkish forces are conducting Egemen to strengthen ties between the United States and Turkish militaries and to demonstrate the commitment of both to the stability and safety of the region.
“Both forces gained valuable international relations benefits from this exercise and the training was conducted safely and effectively,” said Purington. “The Turkish forces had junior sailors and Marines as well as senior officers and the commanding officer present, so there was knowledge gained across the board.”