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24th MEU Conducts PMINT
by U.S. Marine Corps LCpl. Joey Mendez and Sgt. Devin Nichols - August 26, 2014

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"Mere Chance" by David G. Bancroft

USS IWO JIMA, At Sea - Marines and Sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit caught their first glimpse of what their life will consist of while deployed aboard the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York, or the USS Fort McHenry, during Amphibious Squadron/ Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration, or PMINT, August 6-13, 2014.

PMINT is the MEU's second major pre-deployment exercise and is intended to get the servicemembers accustom to operations and everyday life aboard ship.

Marines and Sailors disembark a Landing Craft Air Cushion, or LCAC, from the USS Iwo Jima’s Assault Craft Unit 4, during a tactical offload of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit personnel and equipment at Onslow Beach, N.C., August 12, 2014. The offload was part of Amphibious Squadron/Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration, the second major exercise for the 24th MEU. The USS Iwo Jima is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mary M. Carmona)
Marines and Sailors disembark a Landing Craft Air Cushion, or LCAC, from the USS Iwo Jima's Assault Craft Unit 4, during a tactical offload of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit personnel and equipment at Onslow Beach, N.C., August 12, 2014. The offload was part of Amphibious Squadron/Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration, the second major exercise for the 24th MEU. The USS Iwo Jima is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mary M. Carmona)

“The purpose of PMINT is really a two-part answer,” said Maj. Tyler Holland, 24th MEU assistant operations officer. “First, it's for the MEU Marines and Sailors to familiarize themselves with the ship, and understand - and practice – [shipboard] customs and courtesies. It's also designed for the MEU and PHIBRON staffs to come together and conduct planning ... and to solidify the relationships that are instrumental for the success of our mission once deployed.”

PMINT is the first part of the “crawl, walk, run” idea with the Navy and Marine Corps integration. It not only allowed the most senior ranking officials to work together, but also the Marines and Sailors to work closely with the administrative, intelligence, supply, and communication shops.

“I took PMINT as an exercise to get us familiar with ship life and working conditions, [while] working side by side with the Navy,” said Lance Cpl. Robert M. Rivers, a data network specialist with the 24th MEU's Command Element. “On a daily basis we were extremely busy; on average we had 16-hour workday.”

The adjustments needed to working and living on the USS Iwo Jima versus Camp Lejeune forced the Marines to keep a strong mindset.

“You have to maintain a confident mindset in a new place. Just reminding myself that I know everything and not to let the surroundings affect me,” said Rivers, a Laurel, Mississippi native. Rivers said PMINT allowed him to get familiar with the ins-and-outs of working on ship and actually enjoyed some advantages it provided.

“What PMINT taught me was extremely important for going forward and I feel more confident in my abilities to work alongside the Navy on the ship,” said Rivers. “I actually like working on ship. Everything is closer ... if I needed to go to any specific office, it was right there. It's like a small community.”

Working on the internal ship problems was not the only difficulties the Marines and Sailors faced and had to conquer while aboard the ship. Getting familiar with drills and daily ship life was something they had to overcome.

All four elements within the MEU conducted training. Maritime Raid Force with the Command Element conducted a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure exercise. The Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment conducted two raids. The Combat Logistics Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 24 conducted non-combatant evacuation operation drills.

The Air Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced) conducted day and night flight operations, specifically focusing on carrier deck qualifications and support to the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The Navy stood busy conducting Landing Craft, Air Cushioned vehicle operations every day and flight operations, among other things.

A popular adjustment for the Marines on ship was getting used to their sleeping quarters.

“As far as ship life, adjusting to the sleeping quarters was a challenge. I would put my heels on the foot of the bed and my toes were scraping the ceiling,” added Rivers with a chuckle, referring to the confined berthing spaces.

To complete PMINT the 24th MEU Marines and Sailors conducted a tactical offload. The MAGTF used all elements to storm Onslow Beach, North Carolina.

“The intent of this tactical offload was to test our procedures to debarkation of the ship as well as identifying procedures that can help expedite accountability and timely launch of landing craft from ship to shore,” said Capt. Ricardo B. Rivera, the 24th MEU embarkation officer. “In addition, it forced the unit to identify C2 shortfalls and strengths while transitioning from command on ship to command ashore.”

The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group deployed LCACs loaded with amphibious assault vehicles, Light Armored Vehicles, and Humvees before conducting debarkation.

“The tactical offload is the intentional build-up of forces ashore in a phased manner from ship-to-shore that incorporates combat power with logistical sustainability with the added flexibility of calling forces ashore or change the plan if the situation changes ashore,” said Rivera, a Bronx, New York, native. “The next phase is to prepare the beach for landing with naval gun fire ashore, followed by the Assault Wave - consisting of AAVs - to secure the beach head, push forward, and establish the perimeter to allow the scheduled waves to land.”

The battalion landing team established a perimeter and conducted security before the rest of the offload could continue. Once the beach was secured, Rivera explained, the rest of the landing craft, along with armored vehicles, came ashore and conducted embarkation to the landing force objective area or command post.

More photos available below

By U.S. Marine Corps LCpl. Joey Mendez and Sgt. Devin Nichols
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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