April 7, 2010

26th MEU prepares for deployment at East Coast’s premier training center

From Staff Reports

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Approximately 1,500 Marines from the Camp Lejeune-based 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted training at the Maneuver Training Center at Fort Pickett from March 24 to April 6 as part of their pre-deployment training period.

  26th MEU at Fort Pickett

Staff Sgt. Juan Padilla, radio chief for 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, displays and describes a mock improvised explosive device to MEU Marines during IED awareness training at Fort Pickett, Va., March 26, 2010. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Santiago Colon, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs)

The Marines traveled nearly 250 miles from North Carolina with all of their equipment to focus on the MEU’s first unit-wide exercise in their Pre-deployment Training Program. The Marines fired nearly every weapon in their arsenal at Pickett’s many live-fire ranges, shoot houses and, and convoy lanes.

The Marines also utilized the training center’s Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer. A simulator where Marines were strapped into a makeshift Humvee that rolls itself over several times. The occupants must then safely evacuate the cab.

"This shows the Marines how to act in case the event of a rollover on land or in water," said Gunnery Sgt. Steven Rowe, range safety officer for the training. "It shows Marines how to egress through the [vehicle] doors."

They also engaged in infantry ground tactics, convoy maneuvers, military operations in urban terrain, breaching buildings and explosives. The action officer for the training at Pickett, Capt. Nicholas Gregson, said the training laid the ground work for more complex training to come in their PTP.

"The training here was very successful. We got a lot accomplished,” said Gregson. “The Marines were able to do a lot of live fire, and we feel confident going into the rest of the PTP cycle that we're going to have a successful training evolution and we'll be ready to go when it's over."

  26th MEU at Fort Pickett

Marines with India Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/8, offload from an MV-22 Osprey at their next training area aboard Fort Pickett, Va., March 24. BLT 3/8 is one of the three units that joined 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which will spend the next six months training for its upcoming deployment. (Photo by Cpl. Jesse Johnson, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs)


"We have participated in non-combatant evacuation operation training, mass casualty training, humanitarian assistance training, M203 grenade launcher training, and we have gone to the MK-19 automatic grenade launcher range," added Warrant Officer Charles M. Evanson, maintenance officer for the logistics battalion attached to the 26th.

Evanson said the Fort Pickett exercise is not just a chance to train but also to build unit cohesion amongst the Marines and Sailors.

The Marines and Sailors of the 26th returned to Lejeune where they will continue their advance training. They will also continue their extensive training at other sites across the world, including aboard the ships of the Kearsarge amphibious ready group on which the unit will deploy on later this year.

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