MARINE CORPS AUXILIARY LANDING FIELD, BOGUE, N.C. -- Nearly 80 Marines and Sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit moved to the field here from May 22-25 for a fourth and final command post exercise (CPX), before beginning the unit pre-deployment training program in late June.
The exercise primarily served as an opportunity for the MEU to validate its command and control systems, which enable the unit to strategize and provide communications among its different elements, said Lt. Col. Kelly P. Alexander, 26th MEU operations officer.
During the exercise MEU personnel utilized existing facilities at the airfield to establish a forward operating base to simulate how the unit would like to set-up shop in a real-world operation.
"Most likely we'd be setting up in a hard site," said Alexander. "The way we operated in this exercise is the way we'd like do business on the road ahead."
The exercise also gave the MEU's communications section an opportunity to practice establishing communications in a field environment, said Master Sgt. Michael J. Seasons, 26th MEU communications chief.
"This exercise has given our Marines a few days of solid training without having to worry about collateral duties," said Seasons. "We were able to focus twenty-four seven on our mission."
Seasons added that the exercise also helped introduce 30 Marines, who recently attached to the communications section, to how the command element operates in the field.
The communications Marines also used the exercise to continue familiarizing themselves with the PRC-117 and PRC-150, two radios that will be used by the unit for the first time during the MEU's next deployment.
The PRC-117 combines features of multiple radios into one package while the PRC-150 offers a high frequency capability that could, when given enough power, allow a Marine in North Carolina to communicate with someone on the other side of the world, said Cpl. Garrett S. Barnes, 26th MEU cryptologic non-commissioned officer.
Understanding of this gear is being achieved through persistence and hard work, with communications teams practicing around the clock, said Barnes.
"We'll keep going until every Marine in our section can use this gear," he said.
The successful completion of the training was the result of a carefully planned, ramp-up approach, said Alexander.
The command element's CPX training began with two basic set-ups of the unit's COC equipment aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. The First, in March, took place in front of the MEU headquarters building and the second, in April, in a nearby field.
The USS Bataan (LHD 5) was the site of the third CPX, as the MEU validated its ability to operate and deploy its COC in a shipboard environment.
The MEU is now preparing to assume operational control of its major subordinate elements (Second Battalion, Second Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 and Combat Logistics Battalion 26) in late June and begin a rigorous 180-day training cycle, culminating with a scheduled 2007 deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.