Marine Training

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FARMVILLE – The Marines are making sure they don't get in a rut.

A detachment of Marines from Camp Lejeune arrive in the Farmville area this week and will be conducting day and nighttime exercises as part of their Realistic Urban Training Exercise, or RUT, which takes them outside their normal and familiar training ground.

Operating mostly out of Fort Pickett, the members of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit will be training in the area through next week.

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“This is a tremendous opportunity for us,” Col. Frank Donovan, Commanding Officer, 24th MEU, said in a statement released by Camp Lejeune. “The people and community leaders of the Farmville…and Fort Pickett areas have been incredibly supportive, and we are truly thankful for the opportunity to not only train in unfamiliar and challenging terrain, but to also interact with fellow Americans who may have limited exposure to Marines.”

Among the training exercises, Town Manager Gerald Spates told Town Council during its January work session, will be scenarios at the Farmville Regional Airport and a night-time “assault” at the Town-owned Mottley Lake in Prince Edward County.

The Marines will also move on foot from Farmville to the airport after dark.

“You might see them-they're going to go from the Field Of Dreams to the airport, walking at night. They'll be doing some exercises at night so we've cleared it with all the property owners,” Spates said.

The airport will be closed this Friday and early Saturday morning for the Marine exercises there and then a community appreciation event will be held, with Ospreys and other equipment on hand for the community to view, from noon to 4 p.m.

“For anybody who wants to go out there,” Spates said.

“And then the following week is when they're doing the nighttime thing at Mottley Lake,” the town manager said.

The Marines are no strangers to Farmville, having trained in and around the town in 2009.

Camp Lejeune has more than 156,000 acres, including 11 miles of beach, which Marines use to train for combat and humanitarian missions.

But off-base training, such as that in Farmville, is considered vital because it offers a diversity of terrain from the Camp Lejeune's flat tidal land just inland from the Atlantic coast.

The Marines remind area residents that they may see soldiers and role players periodically throughout the training period, as well as military aircraft and vehicles.

The 24th MEU will be the landing force for the Norfolk-based Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group that includes the amphibious assault ships USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and USS Gunston Hall.

The Camp Lejeune forces began training off site in 1985 in “numerous cities throughout the United States to simulate the kind of hotspots to which MEUs are often called in a crisis as realistically as possible,” according to the Marine press release.

According to the statement issued late Monday, “much of the training will center on what the Marines call situational training exercises. The MEU will be issued a series of mock orders, designed to replicate the types of mission they're likely to face during their deployment, then plan the missions in detail and execute them in pre-designated locations that have already been coordinated with community officials and law enforcement.”