CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines and Sailors with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BAT ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in their culminating deployment certification event, Composite Training Unit Exercise (C2X), aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), from May 16 to June 6, 2023.
C2X is the final deployment certification training event for the BAT ARG and the 26 MEU to refine and validate the Navy and Marine Corps’ teams integrated tactics, techniques and procedures and standard operating procedures prior to deployment.
The training concluded a seven-month long, enhanced pre-deployment training program (PTP), which included five at-sea and three land-based training events. The 26th MEU accomplished all training objectives and demonstrated proficiency across all MEU Mission Essential Tasks (METs) and warfighting functions, to include MEU/SOF-I3, during a threat-based scenario reflective of the current and anticipated operating environments of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Fleet areas of operations.
During this final at-sea training and deployment certification of the pre-deployment training program, were several scenario-driven, realistic training events to simulate near-peer threats in a contested maritime environment. The 26th MEU executed a wide variety of missions to hone collective skills ranging from multiple raids, long-range precision strikes, foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA), disaster response, to Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) / Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure, MEU/SOF I-3 to multiple tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel missions (TRAP), an airfield seizure, defense in support of the amphibious task force (DATF), and a supporting arms coordination exercise (SACEX). All showcasing the relevance, flexibility and all-domain operational capability the ARG/MEU provides a Joint Task Force, Theater Special Operations Command, or Fleet Commander in terms of supporting theater campaign objectives as the nation’s premier crisis response force.
“The opportunity to get another training repetition in foreign humanitarian aid was essential, especially in an ever-changing, complex world,” said Maj. Andre Fontaness, the operations officer of Logistics Combat Element. “This ensures we are ready and capable of conducting humanitarian aid while we are deployed and allows us to showcase the robust capabilities brought forward by a [Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team] and FHA team.”
Based on the current operational environment, FHA is a MEU MET the 26th MEU could support during the upcoming deployment. During the FHA mission, the local government experienced a devastating earthquake, similar to the situation seen with the Türkiye earthquake in Feb. 2023. The 26th MEU deployed a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST) to assess and clear an airfield, as part of the training scenario, to allow for the safe use for a notional country devastated by the earthquake. The team also sent a shock trauma platoon to respond to potential mass casualty events or provide any necessary medical aid to affected individuals.
Another event to highlight was the Supporting Arms Coordination Exercise (SACEX), an event with Sierra Battery from the 26th MEU’s BLT 1/6, which included live-fire artillery support during the maneuver phase of C2X that culminated in a full-mission-profile amphibious assault.
“HI-RAIN was a great opportunity to bring together different assets from within the battery before deployment and show that we are capable of working together in disaggregated situations,” said 1st. Lt. Alicia Cagney, HIMARS Liaison Officer.
The 26th MEU also conducted advanced MEU/SOF-integrated events during COMPTUEX showcasing the ability of the MEU to integrate with, enable, support, and compliment SOF activities across the spectrum of military operations. Similar to the other PTP events, the 26th MEU integrated with special operating forces, most notably elements of East-coast based Naval Special Warfare Teams (SEALs) and Soldiers from the 19th Special Forces Group as part of C2X. During C2X, the 26th MEU Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) and NSW teams integrated in the execution of several live-fire raids and other direct-action missions, increasing interoperability between the forces. The integration between 26 MEU and SOF elements during each complex, multi-domain mission of the C2X resulted in increased warfighting capabilities and reflective of a special-operations capable, MEU.
“Working with the SEALs showcased our ability to integrate and operate closely with Naval Special Warfare Units. We’ve conducted several joint full-mission-profile MEU/SOF-integrated missions demonstrating the flexibility forward deployed MEU’s provide a Geographic Combatant Commander or Theater Special Operations Commander in times of crisis.”, said Maj. Mike Lowery, the Commanding Officer of the 26th MEU’s Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF).
The 26th MEU serves as one of the Nation’s premier crisis response forces capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on forces and designated special operations, in support of theater requirements of the Geographic Combatant Commander. Coupled with the BAT ARG, the 26th MEU serves as a premier stand-in force with a full complement of all-domain capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals or weapons engagements zones of an adversary.