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1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade to exercise command and control at Javelin Thrust 2012

US Marine Corps News

7/7/2012
By 1st MEB Public Affairs, 1st MEB

Javelin Thrust 2012/Large Scale Exercise-1 is underway at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- More than 5,000 Marines from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, part of I Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Forces Reserve are participating in the exercise.

The large-scale exercise is the first in a three-part continuum, culminating with a Navy and Marine Corps led amphibious exercise Dawn Blitz in 2013. Javelin Thrust is the largest annual Marine Corps Reserve and active duty training exercise, comprised of reserve Marines from 38 states, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, 9th Communication Battalion, and the newly activated 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force. The 33 Canadian Brigade Group from Ottawa, Canada is participating as a coalition force, with a higher headquarters based at Camp Pendleton.

The 1st MEB will serve as the command element during the final three days of the exercise. Elements of Marine Forces Reserve will provide the air, ground and logistics combat element. “We have active and reserve component forces working together in a MAGTF, which is great training for both forces,” said Brig. Gen. James Hartsell, the 1st MEB deputy commanding general.

The exercise tests Marines in their individual skills and to conduct annual training requirements while simultaneously affording the active duty 1st MEB a rare chance to exercise command and control over a reserve force a complex and austere environment.

“This is a bit of an interesting exercise in that we’re working with MARFORRES again, rather than those units that are assigned to 1st MEB,” said Maj. Gen. Melvin Spiese, the 1st MEB commanding general. “Javelin Thrust completes the package for us. Albeit with forces not assigned to the MEB, it will give the staff the ability to really function at that higher end.”

Marines taking part in the exercise are being tested and challenged in a series of complex scenarios.

“The most important training value is everything from the private to the general that’s involved in this exercise,” said Hartsell. “The individual skills that each Marine gets in an exercise like this, in this desert environment, a combined arms live-fire scenario is what every Marine needs. Regardless of what kind of crisis response, all the way up to a general officer whose commanding and controlling an exercise of this scale which again exercises me and my ability to command and control all the elements of the MAGTF, that’s what makes this better and different than things we’ve done in the past.”

Javelin Thrust features heavy armor assets in a series of live fire and combined arms events designed to test Marines in a desert environment.

“We have 2nd Tanks Bn., here that’s actually maneuvering across the desert, something we [1st MEB] haven’t done here in over ten years,” Hartsell said. “With our focus on security and stability operations we haven’t had the opportunity to train like we’re doing here. So that is some of the skills that people are learning here.”

Javelin Thrust is highlighted by the maturation of tactical decision making, adjusting to changing battle rhythms, while maintaining a focus on the mission to validate 1st MEB as a crisis response force of choice for the Marine Corps.

“The training and the integration of our total force in the Marine Corps between our active duty component and our reserve component is something that I professionally and personally take a lot of pride in,” said Hartsell, who is a reserve general officer. “I couldn’t be more proud on how we’ve taken an active duty command element an active duty tank battalion, a reserve regiment, reserve infantry regiment, reserve logistics regiment and a reserve Marine air group and brought them in seamlessly.”

While other Marine brigades responded to crisis contingencies across the globe in recent years, 1st MEB command element remains focused on partnering with other nations to meet mission requirements to respond to a crisis if the nation called.

“We’ve worked with a coalition setting now with the Canadians,” Hartsell said. “We’ve worked all of our communications, both on a classified and unclassified system. Nobody else in the Marine Corps, no other MEB command element has had the opportunity to do that -- and we’ve done it. That’s why I believe that we would be the most prepared, most ready if called upon today for today’s crisis.”

New to the 1st MEB hierarchy, 1st LE Bn., will inject into the exercise, giving the battalion the ability to develop and refine their support of the MEB. A company-sized element will participate in the exercise to conduct four ranges, which include personal weapons firing, and heavy guns. They will also conduct tactical sight exploitation, detainee handling and main supply route reconnaissance.

“By integrating the battalion’s capabilities, we hope to be able to refine our concept of operations to better support the MEB now and in the future,” said Capt. Gunnar Spafford. “We’ll be able to conduct realistic training in a real environment, and we hope to take that real training and test out our new concept of operations and how it fits in with the exercise. We’re looking to be able to put on display all the abilities that 1st Law Enforcement Battalion brings and educate the MEB and the leadership on what we can and will bring to the fight.”

Identifying adjustments that need to be made in the future while monitoring and managing the fight that’s taking place on the ground with subordinate units.

“It’s been a deliberate comprehensive approach toward the development of the staff and this exercise is a continuation of that,” Spiese said. “This allows us to carry ourselves into very deliberate sustained combat operations ashore in a scenario of maneuver and combined arms fighting.”

“The 1st MEB will focus on a building block approach,” Hartsell said. “We’re learning things here that we haven’t had the opportunity, but we’ve trained and prepared and planned to do. We’re executing that now and we’ll bring that to next year into an actual amphibious large scale exercise called Dawn Blitz. That’s going to exercise the MEB and the command element and bring in all the pieces we have now and the complexity and also the necessity of amphibious.”

At the conclusion of Javelin Thrust, an after action review will evaluate lessons learned and incorporate improvements into future training plans and exercises.

The MAGTF Training Command and subordinate elements are observing and will assess the 1st MEB’s ability to command and control a brigade-size force by utilizing the Combat Center ranges and assessment from Tactical Training Exercise Control Group. In an effort to transition service-level training from the operational focus of the past decade to rebalance the Corps to support a wider range of operational capabilities. Members from MAGTF Staff Training Program from Quantico, Va., observing and providing after action review for the development of MEB capabilities for ultimate validation.

Javelin Thrust is anticipated to grow as more forces return from overseas contingencies. The exercise is limited to 14 days due to reservists’ availability. Future plans include a 29-day training evolution with a 10-day final exercise and a higher scale of interaction with other services and coalition forces.



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