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Brilliance in basics: 1st Marine Division launches Steel Knight

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. Demetrius Morgan | December 8, 2015

Marines with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division embarked aboard the USS Somerset and executed a complex amphibious assault on the shores of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 4, 2015.

Exercise Steel Knight is a division-wide training evolution, which provides realistic and intense training to ensure the division is fully capable of operating anywhere in the world at any given moment. The ability to conduct combat operations serves as the staple responsibility as the ground combat element of I Marine Expeditionary Force. Amphibious operations are seeded deeply within the Marine Corps both historically and operationally. Maintaining these skills provides the nation with expertise and combat power that can be projected anywhere around globe.

"This exercise is really all about honing our capabilities as a Marine Air Ground Task Force while with the Navy," said Capt. Sean Leahy, the Company B commander. "Amphibious operations are what we do; it's what we are known for."

Although amphibious operations are essential, it can only work if every member of the team across the MAGTF and the amphibious Navy executes their role effectively.

"Individual actions are really important in these types of movements and training," said 2nd Lt. Jesse Villanueva, a platoon commander with the battalion. "It's important that me and all my Marines do their job well. If everyone at every level from the platoon commander all the way down to that team leader, then we are going to be successful."

During the days leading up to the assault training, Marines rehearsed basic combat tactics and procedures, which allowed designated small unit leaders to hone their leadership skills and for Marines as a whole to sustain individual skillsets.

This training also focused on getting Marines familiar with the Amphibious Assault Vehicle, which is platform primarily utilized for sea to shore missions.

After careful coordination and preparation, the battalion employed the tactics they had practiced during the previous days and utilized designated attachments including military policemen and explosive ordinance disposal Marines to secure designated areas and perform detainee handling following the amphibious landing.

"There are a lot of things that come into play when executing something like this and it requires different elements to do their job," Leahy said. "It's important that everyone, including me, does their job to the best of their ability so the mission goes as smoothly as possible."

"First of the First" is only one of the many elements taking part in Steel Knight and the performance of each individual unit and each individual Marine is what will define success and set the standard throughout the duration of this challenging exercise.

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