US Marine Corps, November 01, 2015 - CAMP PENDLETON, CA by Sgt Paris Capers - U.S. Marines and Sailors with the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a non-combatant evacuation operation on Camp Pendleton, California, during Composite Training Unit Exercise, Oct. 26, 2015.
During COMPTUEX— and in all of the MEU’s pre-deployment packages since August— the BOXARG/13th MEU has been conducting operations in the fictional country of Black and the regions surrounding it, actively executing missions across the range of military operations.
Within the exercise, U.S. citizens at the American Consulate to the country of Black were advised to leave the country by the U.S. State Department due to increased tensions and hostility from a violent extremist organization in the area. In response, the MEUs major subordinate commands each received tasks that would help get the citizens to safe haven.
The NEO is a combined accomplishment of multiple aspects of the 13th MEU, as well as one of the mission essential tasks it is trained to complete within hours of notification, according to 1st Lt. Hugh McShane, who served as the officer-in-charge of the evacuation collection center.
Company “G,” Battalion Landing Team 2/1, the BOXARG/ 13th MEU’s ground combat element, provided a security cordon around the airfield and escorts for citizens moving in the area. Combat Logistics Battalion 13, the MEU’s logistics combat element, stood up an evacuation collection center to process and manifest evacuees for flights returning stateside. The air combat element of the MEU, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (Reinforced), provided air support with CH-53E Super Stallion and MV-22 Osprey helicopters, transporting equipment and personnel required for the operation.
“In an evacuation our Marines are doing a number of important tasks and missions,” McShane said. “But they all boil down to one thing: People helping people. Whether they are standing security with a rifle or greeting the displaced as they enter the [evacuation collection center], the Marines are ultimately providing peace of mind for other living, breathing people.”
The NEO provided medical personnel an opportunity to hone their skills as well, as evaluators included a fictional enemy rifleman who opened fire on the ECC, injuring four Marines processing the evacuees. Corpsmen assisting with processing were suddenly providing urgent care for the injured and calling in a Medical Evacuation from the airfield.
“Sometimes the mission won’t be to go in guns blazing to save the day,” said McShane, explaining the versatility of the BOXARG/13th MEU’s training program. “Our boys might have to get people to safety or help a country recover from natural disasters, and that’s why we train across the range of military operations during exercises like COMPTUEX.”
COMPTUEX is the last hurdle for the Fighting 13th before Certification Exercise in November, which will be the final exercise and evaluation in the MEU’s preparation for deployment to the Pacific and Central Command areas of responsibility next year.