OFF THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA -- The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and their Navy counterparts of Amphibious Squadron 8 kicked off their final training evolution today to prepare their Marines and Sailors for an upcoming deployment this spring.
Certification Exercise, commonly called CERTEX, is the third at-sea exercise for the Navy-Marine team and is intended to test their ability to rapidly plan and respond to a variety of crises during the next three weeks.
Over the weekend, approximately 2,300 Marines loaded the three amphibious assault ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, which includes the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and USS Gunston Hall. The Marines worked around the clock to load the essential aircraft, vehicles and equipment that constitute a Marine Air Ground Task Force, which they will put to the test while refining their skills before heading across the Atlantic into the European and Central Command areas of operation.
The 24th MEU/PHIBRON 8 team will conduct training missions in North Carolina and Virginia in the coming days, which will include a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, mechanized raids, long-range aviation raids, and a response to a multiple casualty situation. These missions are based on a continuous fictitious scenario that has developed throughout the MEU’s six-month work-up cycle that has the unit operating off the coast of unstable countries who requested support from the United States.
A unique addition to this final exercise will be the integration of an unmanned aerial vehicle, which will deploy with the 24th MEU. This will be the first East Coast MEU to deploy with a UAV, which they will use to gather aerial imagery.
The 24th MEU’s CERTEX is also being included in the scenario driving Bold Alligator, the largest amphibious exercise conducted off the East Coast in ten years. The 24th MEU will conduct some missions in support of this larger exercise, but will mostly focus on its own mission essential tasks they are required to execute prior to deploying.