CAMP PENDLETON, Calif --
The 21st Century has ushered in monumental changes that affect the daily life of many Americans. These shifts also impact military installations and operations uniquely. The evolution of modern warfare through rapidly maturing warfighting domains like cyber-space and the digital information environment present challenges that require consistent and diverse levels of understanding and assessment.
These frontiers bring a new set of opportunities and challenges to consider for any modern military force. The resiliency of Marine Corps installations and their ability to directly support forward deployed operational forces and combatant commanders through training, readiness and deployment remains a critical component of national strategy.
Marine Corps Installations West demonstrates its capabilities, explores crisis management techniques, and improves upon interoperability with regional partners in the annual exercise “Semper Durus.” This year’s challenges improve and build upon previous years’ exercises dramatically. Semper Durus provides hyper-detailed notional problems for the regionally situated MCI-West team to approach with a systematic and rapid-response solution in a variety of notional scenarios.
“Fighting the installation is how we will establish a regional defense to counter, disrupt, and defeat full- spectrum threats across multiple domains” Col. Philip C. Laing, MCI-West Chief of Staff
As part of MCI-West’s annual installation hardening initiatives, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and its tenant commands, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, and Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, will participate in Exercise Semper Durus 2023, from April 10-14. The exercise consists of complex installation-specific emergency response scenarios to test response plans, policies, and procedures, while simulating support of Fleet Marine Force deployment activities.
The primary exercise objectives strive to engage a regional defense, strengthen MCI-West’s physical security, and confirm installation protection. This will all happen while MCI-West simultaneously prepares operational forces for battle in a notional international response scenario based upon real-world potential outcomes aligned with Force Design 2030 capabilities and initiatives.
“This year we are going up against a (notional) peer adversary” said Michial Michalovich, operations and plans director for MCI-West. “Our true peer adversaries can attack us in the homeland. This forces us to do two things, deploy the I Marine Expeditionary Force, and defend ourselves in the homeland.” Semper Durus will test participants with varying scenarios throughout each day of the exercise to identify weak points and to confirm each installations’ ability to effectively respond.
Each scenario in Semper Durus evolves around reinforcing and improving MCI-West capabilities in support of operating forces, tenant commands, and the preservation of infrastructure and personnel. These scenarios activate on command by personnel separated from active participants as a “white cell” that triggers and manages real-time complex problem sets, similar to a sort of game master. Exercise participants react to each problem by exercising regional command and control and leveraging interagency coordination to “fight the installation,” meaning, simulating a realistic attack towards assets and infrastructure through a variety of means in any potential battlespace.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Kierkegaard
U.S. Marine Corps Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician coordinates with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Fire and Rescue during a bomb threat simulation at the Postal Operations Center, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11, 2017. The regional command post exercise is comprised of a series of field training scenarios designed to improve regional command and control, enhance interagency coordination, and improve installation capabilities to respond to, and recover from, a crisis event and validate the installation mission assurance all-hazard plan.
“Fighting the installation is how we will establish a regional defense to counter, disrupt, and defeat full- spectrum threats across multiple domains,” said U.S Marine Col. Philip C. Laing, the MCI-West Chief of Staff. “That’s forcing us here at MCI-West to look across the region in terms of installation protection as well as enable and protect force projection, specifically with I MEF as the main effort, and with follow on forces.”
MCI-West is constantly striving to adapt to the demands of a multi-domain battlespace while embedding multi-domain operations into doctrine. Technology is continuously advancing, the threat of peer-competition is rising, and enduring natural threats are constant. Because of this, MCI-West prepares for additional roles in supporting I MEF and enabling logistics and joint operations in addition to its continuous ongoing missions and responsibilities. As MCI-West supports I MEF, in notional or real-world situations, the regional command also continues to train forces, remain prepared to fight on its own soil while sustaining current operations, and ensure the safety of all base personnel and families on MCI-West installations.
Semper Durus, more than ever before, will test and push the MCI-West team, enabled and supported by partners and agencies throughout the region. Upon the exercise’s conclusion, many of the skillsets within the command will be pushed fully. Upon the conclusion of this and other exercises like it, the MCI-West team, through “battle tested” and continuous challenges will have improved their skillsets, posturing, and readiness for realistic real-world operations in any future crisis.
For any media inquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org