MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Indiana --
2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment participated in a crisis-response training event Nov. 3-5 at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Indiana as part of Exercise Bold Alligator 2014.
Bold Alligator is a large-scale amphibious exercise on the East Coast, organized by U.S. fleet forces and Marine Forces Command, designed to train 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Expeditionary Strike Group 2 to respond to a myriad of different crises.
“This year’s exercise has forces and events taking place all over the East Coast,” said Lt. Col. Gina Levy, the public affairs representative of Marine Forces Command. “We are [here] for a long-range embassy reinforcement that the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response are doing.
“There are exercise events, along the East Coast, that are training Marines and sailors for the future operating environment.”
This event started with the Marines traveling to Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Indiana from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina via MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircrafts and moving to the embassy site on foot.
“We started preparations Sunday by doing loading and unloading drills on the Osprey, so that we can move faster,” said Sgt. Richard Rosales, a squad leader with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines.
Upon reaching their destination, the Marines established security to support the Department of State’s operations. The center is a 1,000-acre urban training facility featuring more than 120 structures, over one mile of tunnels, and a clock tower used as a rappel tower.
“Our biggest challenge was getting out of the combat mindset,” Rosales said. “The Marines are new to embassy guarding, so we met up with the [personnel] at the embassy to learn about daily operations, and how they would normally utilize the Marines [at the embassy].”
During the event, the Marines were posted within the confines of the embassy structure providing security as protesters, volunteers from the unit and the local community, gathered outside the premises.
The protesters caused heightened alertness through picketing and firing simulated rounds with AK-47s during the demonstration, which the Marines mitigated by dispersing the crowds and dealing with those causing the threat escalation appropriately.
The quick reaction of the Marines was ultimately the goal of the event, according to Lt. Col. Jeffrey Stevenson, the battalion commander of 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines.
“Training like this demonstrates the ability for the Marine Corps to extend itself and project force forward in support of National interest,” Stevenson said. “When called upon, we will have demonstrated the ability to project our force from sea to forward inland over distances, which can’t be matched by other services.”
The event will prepare the Marines for their upcoming deployment, in which they will serve as the ground combat element for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response -Africa.
“We will be that force in readiness for two combatant commanders in the event we are needed,” said Stevenson. “This validates the previous training and standard operating procedures for which the company has been developing over the course of six months.”