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NEWS | Jan. 28, 2022

Forward, flexible, ready; 22 MEU prepares at NAAF

By Senior Airman Bailee A. Darbasie 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted pre-deployment operations at North Auxiliary Airfield, North, South Carolina, Jan. 24 – 28.

Members of the 22nd MEU traveled to NAAF to participate in their Composite Training Unit Exercise. The exercise was a combination of multiple units preparing to conduct military operations at sea, project combat power ashore and deploy as the nation’s Crisis Response Force.

“The 22nd MEU is a 2,500 personnel Marine Air-Ground Task Force that trains and deploys aboard a 3-ship U.S. Navy Amphibious Ready Group,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ian Stubblefield, 22nd MEU air support operations operator.

The training portion at NAAF was part of a larger, 24-day pre-deployment certification exercise for the 22nd MEU and Kearsarge ARG to improve combat effectiveness.

COMPTUEX is the final step before the units are certified for deployment.

This training is based on a ‘crawl, walk, run’ mentality to ensure optimized deployment capabilities.

“Their first operation is typically pretty basic,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Scott Wiley, Expeditionary Operations Training Group Marine Aircraft Group 29 air augment. “They try to keep it as simple as possible. But as they get further along in their pre-deployment training, they begin to make the scenarios more complicated.”

The Marine units practice working through all the logistics of moving people and things from the ship to a location inland.

To enhance the training and challenge their abilities, the 22nd MEU Marines were in contact with joint forces across several other installations: Fort Gordon, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Townsend Bombing Range.

“There were a lot of Marines in a lot of different places doing distributed ops,” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Jase Davis, 22nd MEU air support element officer in charge. “Our job as the air support element was to link Marine ground forces to the Marine air picture and the joint air picture. All of that together combined into airfield point defense.”

For many of the Marines involved, it was their first time taking part in such a comprehensive exercise.

“This exercise is one of the last things they do before they board their ships and set sail for deployment,” said Wiley. “So it’s important to conduct live training to maximize the unit’s readiness.”

The rigorous training between the 22nd MEU and Kearsarge ARG increases lethality of the Navy-Marine Corps team, ensuring they are forward, flexible and ready at a moment’s notice.