MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Marines of II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group know that unit readiness can only be analyzed by action, and they recently put themselves to the test to ensure they are ready to take to the field when the time comes.
II MHG teamed with three of their major subordinate commands; the 8th Communications, 2nd Intelligence, and 2nd Radio Battalions, March 22 to April 1 for the largest field exercise the units have held since 2004.
The 11-day exercise focused on preparing the Marines for expeditionary environments like the one currently faced by Marines operating in Afghanistan. A key component of the exercise was validating II MEF’s requirements in an expeditionary environment, and key staff members visited the exercise location to ensure their work space, communications and power requirements are met to allow them to successfully complete their mission.
“The purpose of this exercise we’re conducting is to demonstrate II MEF and II MHG’s ability to set up, maintain, sustain and operate an expeditionary headquarters in the field,” explained 1st Lt. William Nalle, II MHG’s assistant operations officer.
The exercise included an array of training to include medical classes, instruction on proper patrolling techniques, a visit to the gas chamber, and a number of small-unit training scenarios and classes.
On March 26, II MHG completed one of its largest combined operational exercises.
A small group of Marines from ground sensor platoon, 2nd Intelligence Battalion, laid out sensors on the approach to the field exercise area. Role players moved toward the area and began to emplace simulated improvised explosive devices. When GSP’s sensors were tripped by the role players’ actions, the platoon notified the combat operations center, which immediately deployed the II MHG Military Police Support Company’s Quick Reaction Force. Equipped with human-tracking military working dogs, the MPs quickly located, detained and transported the role players to the exercise area for questioning.
Sgt. Eric Heinl, the GSP platoon sergeant for the exercise, along with six other ground sensor operators, understands the significant impact they may have during combat operations.
“A lot of people don’t know our capabilities,” explained Heinl. “Instead of having boots on the deck and constant patrols, we operate in teams of four and place sensors that catch the bad guys prior to or during enemy action.”
Simulated enemy action wasn’t the only challenge II MHG faced in the field. As usual when Marines go to the field, the skies opened up and the Marines endeared days of North Carolina’s torrential downpours. Among the Marines endearing the damp and cold was Cpl. Stephanie Lampear, an II MHG administrative clerk, who was determined to give her all, rain or shine.
“I’ve never been in the field before, and I like it,” she said. “I would have loved to take a break go home to my family, but I will stay no matter what, because I am a Marine and I want to set an example for my junior Marines.”
When the exercise concluded, the Marines had more confidence in their own abilities and their unit’s role in an expeditionary environment, and in fact, many Marines, like Sgt. Nick Scovel, an intelligence analyst with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, were looking forward to doing it again.
“It’s good to get out here and see where the units’ faults and high points are and how we can work together,” Scovel explained. “Hopefully we’ll have more field exercises and operations together in the future so we can build a more cohesive II MEF Headquarters Group.”