CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - Approximately 2,400 U.S. Sailors and Marines from the USS Bataan (LHD 5) and embarked Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted sustainment training in the area of Arta Beach, Djibouti, from 7-10 July.
The training demonstrated USS Bataan and 24th MEU’s ability to rapidly project ship to shore movements and conduct operations in a variety of harsh environments. Once ashore, Marines demonstrated a variety of skillsets, to include small arms, crew-served weapon systems and mortar live-fire ranges.
The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa coordinated and de-conflicted use of the range with international partners to ensure the area was properly prepared for the training event.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Neil Loaiza, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, has the responsibility of coordinating and de-conflicting the use of the ranges with all U.S. service branches and international partners using these training ranges.
“I maintained communication with the 24th MEU in order to coordinate the sustainment training with various liaisons and organize each request based on what type of training they wished to accomplish,” Loaiza said. “Different ranges are cleared for different types of ammunition and weaponry. Certain days of the week have no live-fire times, so I have to factor all these things into the planning.”
According to a USS Bataan press release from July 14, Capt. Larry Legree, Amphibious Squadron 8 commodore, said, “Our ability to conduct high-end littoral operations in a contested environment requires continual focus on the skills and capabilities that make the ARG/MEU team a force of choice in this domain,” said LeGree. “It is an invaluable opportunity to maintain proficiency in our core war-fighting skills in this region. Working with Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti while utilizing the Arta beach training areas allows us to maintain our operational edge.”
USS Bataan used this training opportunity to demonstrate the ship’s ability to move hundreds of personnel and thousands of tons of equipment from ship to shore in a variety of methods, including landing craft units and the MEU’s Air Combat Element’s helicopter and tilt-rotor aircraft.
This sustainment training showcased the self-sustaining aspects of the MEU as part of its force structure. A MEU can bring enough supplies and assets to operate independently for up to 15 days. Utilizing a mobile desalinization process at the beach, potable water was created from the sea. The Marines also created their own shelter and sleeping arrangements in a variety of methods, some using tents and others simply rolling out a cot and mosquito netting.
This training was an opportunity for the 24th MEU to improve upon our Mission Essential Tasks in austere conditions, said Maj. Leonard Niedosik, Officer-In-Charge of the exercise.
“During the exercise we established Command and Control ashore, fired over 24,000 rounds of ammunition on live-fire ranges, established a Forward Arming and Refueling Point which enabled continuous close air support and our landing amphibious vehicles logged hundreds of miles through rough terrain,” he said.
Additionally, the Logistics Combat Element of the MEU, Combat Logistics Battalion 24, deployed as part of the MEU, ensured the forward-deployed Marines had enough water, food and ammunition to conduct a variety of mission skillsets, enabling the combatant commander operational flexibility. During the exercise, CLB-24 executed one of the most important capabilities of the MEU—acting as a lifeline for Marines onshore.
This training compliments Bataan and the 24th MEU’s participation in previous exercises throughout the 5th Fleet area of operations during this 2017 deployment.