SALALAH, Oman (NNS) -- Launching from amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD 25) off the coast of Oman, more than 250 U.S. Marines and Sailors with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (MKI ARG)/11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) began training alongside soldiers from the Royal army of Oman's 11th Brigade for Exercise Sea Soldier in Salalah, Oman, Feb. 19.
Led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and hosted by the Royal army of Oman, the annual, two-week bilateral exercise aims to enhance communication and coordination between U.S. and Omani forces, build mutual warfighting capability, and support long-term regional cooperation.
"Bilateral exercises, like Sea Soldier, are great opportunities for MEUs because Marines can disembark ships and conduct combat sustainment training in new, unfamiliar environments," said Col. Clay C. Tipton, commanding officer, 11th MEU. "They have a chance to interact and learn from warriors of a different culture, and these exercises are conducted with key partners in the region to strengthen our collective ability to work together should we have to face emerging crises in the future."
The training includes military operations on urban terrain (MOUT), building clearing, checkpoint operations, command and control procedures, counter-IED (improvised explosive device) training, live-fire ranges, squad to company tactics, mortar ranges, and a culminating final exercise which will be a combined Omani-U.S. raid.
"Every opportunity we have to position and launch the landing forces embarked aboard the Somerset is also an opportunity for our Sailors to exercise their technical and tactical expertise," said U.S. Navy Capt. Darren Glaser, commanding officer, Somerset. "Coming together as a larger, 'blue-green' team in support of an exercise or a real-world operation is exactly what we train to do."
U.S. units participating in Sea Soldier are the 11th MEU's Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; Combat Logistics Battalion 11; the MEU's Command Element; and Somerset. The Marines and Sailors disembarked Somerset, Feb. 15, to prepare for Exercise Sea Soldier.
Arriving in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations late November, the MKI ARG is comprised of Makin Island, the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5 and 11th MEU; Somerset; and amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45).
While in the region, the southern California-based Navy-Marine Corps team falls under Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and will help ensure the free flow of commerce, provide crisis response and support ongoing missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
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