Force recon Marines return to MEUs
force recon marines return to meus
by gidget fuentes — staff writer
posted : tuesday aug 31, 2010 9:11:46 edt
camp pendleton, calif. — as part of continued efforts to enhance the corps’ ship-boarding capabilities, force reconnaissance marines are set to deploy next year as part of the 13th marine expeditionary unit.
the meu’s 2,300-plus marines and sailors will be a multi-mission, rapid-response force equipped and prepared to do more maritime missions — including amphibious raids, assaults on ships or oil platforms and boat operations.
the addition of a platoon of force reconnaissance marines, along with added rigid-hull inflatable boats borrowed from the navy, will position the 13th meu through its six-month workup and shipboard deployment to join in the corps’ ongoing efforts to thevbss, or visit-board-search-seize, mission.
“we want to be able to get on a potentially opposed platform or ship,” said col. david coffman, the 13th meu commander.
the highly trained force will add a dose of vbss and other special operations-type missions to the largely conventional unit, extending its range of missions and allowing it to support or integrate with special operations forces, if needed, during the deployment.
“our pitch or argument is: we’re already out there. we can do these things,” said coffman, who led the meu on its 2009 deployment.
two other meus are also part of the two-year demonstration: the camp pendleton-based 15th meu, presently deployed off pakistan, and the26th meu, which is conducting its final certification exercise before it deploys from camp lejeune, n.c., in the coming weeks.
“we are taking a look at trying to fill what we see as a gap in capability with respect to vbss operations,” said lt. col. thomas impellitteri, the meu policy officer in the expeditionary polices branch at plans, policies and operations.
the proof-of-concept comes as the corps continues to grow its force recon companies, whichwere stood down to provide men for the 2006 establishment of marine corps forces special operations command and then shifted to division reconnaissance battalions.
the proof-of-concept is the marine corps’ latest effort to restructure and retool its seven expeditionary units.
last year’s revision to the corps’ meu policy reduced and refined the meu’s core capabilities to 16 essential missions, plus several special operations tasks, including vbss. a new mission list is expected to be finalized in late august.
the next step, impellitteri said, is developing a baseline, six-month pre-deployment training plan for the meus. training and education command is expected to finalize the plan sometime next year, he said.
the corps earlier this year established the meu operational advisory group, which includes meu commanders.
the advisory group will help tackle drafting and writing a meu-specific training and readiness manual.
while the corps remains engaged in combat operations in afghanistan, coffman wants the meus to be well-equippedfor maritime security operations, to distribute humanitarian supplies or decimate enemy forces.
“we are a little miniature marine corps,” coffman said, standing on the sandy beach aug. 6 during the meu’s “family day” beach party. “we’ve got to be able to do everything the marine corps does.”
and flexibility is its strength, he said.
coffman knows the inevitable question leading up to every meu’s deployment: where will you go? the answer usually is: we don’t know.
he tells his marines, “you are going to combat. we just don’t know where that is.”
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will meus benefit with the return of force reconnaissance marines? how could they be best utilized? please send your thoughts to marine corps times news editor tony lombardo.