MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Marines and sailors of Security Cooperation Task Force Africa Partnership Station 2012 worked alongside the sailors of the USS Fort McHenry, recently, during a three-day training event on Onslow Beach aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The training consisted of non-combatant operations and ship-to-shore operations as well as ship familiarization, during which APS-12 personnel were able to go aboard the USS Fort McHenry to meet their Navy counterparts and accustom themselves with the ship’s facilities and overall daily activities.
The non-combatant evacuation operations allowed the APS-12 Marines to work with the Assault Amphibious Vehicles to conduct evacuation control center training. The AAVs simulated a ship-to-shore beach insertion and set up a security perimeter for the ECC.
"Things are going pretty smooth," 2nd Lt. Matt Tharp, assault amphibious vehicle platoon commander, ground combat element SCTF APS-12, said. "As far as the landing, everything went well and the [ground combat element] Marines got a chance to get out on the AAVs. Anytime we can do that before a deployment is helpful, because the more experience AAVs and the GCE Marines get together the smoother the deployment will go."
The ECC training included in the non-combatant evacuation operations exercise, in addition to the Marines’ newly acquired non-lethal capabilities, helps prepare them for the possibility of being called to secure or evacuate an American Embassy during the deployment.
"Everything that we're doing here, even if it's something as simple as getting on ship and walking around, is going to be huge when it comes time to deploy," 1st Lt. Christopher Ellison, company commander, command element, SCTF APS-12, said.
The ship familiarization allowed SCTF APS-12 to gain logistical experience as well as learn how to better communicate with the USS Fort McHenry, which they will be deploying to Africa aboard in the coming months.
"Getting that communication with the ship is crucial, especially with a ship that we're deploying with like this. It’s a pretty standard training evolution for AAVs to go out on ship like we did, but this is the first chance we've had to work with the ship we're actually going to be deploying with," Tharp said.
The majority of SCTF APS-12 had never been aboard a ship before or been around the "blue side" of the Navy until taking part in the ship familiarization.
"I know what to expect when I go on ship now, so there won't be any surprises, and now I know what I can do to better prepare for the living conditions I'll have during the deployment," Cpl. Henry Marshall, food service specialist, rifle platoon, GCE APS-12, said.