Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Tyler Clinton, a tiltrotor airframe mechanic with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, uses a blow dryer to dry a carbon fiber patch on an MV-22B Osprey in the hangar bay of the USS Iwo Jima, Oct. 31, 2014. Maintenance on 24th MEU aircraft is near constant in order to maintain a high state of flight readiness. The 24th MEU is participating in Bold Alligator, an exercise intended to improve Navy and Marine Corps amphibious core competencies.

Photo by Cpl. Todd Michalek

24th MEU wraps up PTP, ready for deployment

10 Nov 2014 | Sgt. Devin Nichols 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The Marines and sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit closed the book on another six-month pre-deployment training cycle after a successful amphibious assault on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 27, 2014.

The assault showcased the full gamut of the 24th MEU and its organization as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, which included infantry Marines, aviation assets and heavy equipment operators with combat logistics tying it all together. The purpose of the Pre-deployment Training Program, often called a “work-up,” is to prepare the MEU as America’s premiere force-in-readiness and certify them to be able to accomplish a variety of missions from full-scale combat operations to humanitarian assistance.

“This amphibious assault and our other operations from the sea over the last few months demonstrate why the Marine expeditionary unit remains the Marine Corps’ premier crisis response force,” said Col. Scott F. Benedict, the commanding officer of the 24th MEU. “Although all Marine forces bring a crisis response capability to the table, none bring the balanced force in depth that the MEU provides the combatant commander to deal with uncertainty.

“The Marines of the MEU have worked very hard, we have been resourced, trained and certified by the MEF. We are ready to go forward and accomplish our assigned tasks, whatever they may be.”

The 24th MEU came together May 28, more than five months ago, and has conducted five major training events since—three of which took place at sea aboard the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, which consists of the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York, and USS Fort McHenry.

All three ships will carry the 2,600 Marines and sailors of the 24th MEU once they deploy. In fact, a large part of the PTP involved the integration between the staffs of the MEU and their counterparts in Amphibious Squadron 8. This meant that Marine and Navy staff members had to come together and work as one team, but it also meant synchronizing all three ships so they could effectively communicate.

“I learned how important the big picture is,” said Cpl. Richard Whitling, the 24th MEU assistant Information Management Officer and Command Element training chief. “I was able to help link up command and control systems between ships so that the commander and his staff had a working COP [Common Operational Picture]. I had no clue how important that was before the work-up.”

Marines at all levels benefited from the PTP, whether it was Marines conducting daily operations on the flight line or in the well deck, or others gearing up to assault a beach or a simulated hostile maritime vessel.

“PTP allows us a standardized platform in which we can gauge individual and collective tasks that need to be mastered prior to deploying,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan J. Croake, the combat engineer staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge for Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th MEU. “It acts as a tool for Marines to develop and hone the skills necessary to work cohesively with other Marines and units, and allows them to work through points of friction to better prepare them for the real thing.”

Even at the small unit level, Marines came together to build upon their skills.

“Our company has improved tremendously during the PTP process,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jason Polanco, the company gunnery sergeant for Company L, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th MEU. “I have seen Marines become more confident in the billets they fill, and leaders have enhanced their skills to ensure our company is successful.”

After the MEU was certified for deployment, they remained on the ships to take part in exercise Bold Alligator 2014, an exercise intended to improve Navy and Marine Corps amphibious core competencies. With that mission complete, the MEU returned home to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where they will make final preparations prior to their scheduled deployment around the end of the year.