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15th MEU Weapons Company 2/5 Conducts Sustainment Training in Kuwait

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (NNS) -- Marines and Sailors with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), honed their infantry skills in the sands of Kuwait from June 24-July 9.

http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=38485

Story Number: NNS080721-10
Release Date: 7/21/2008 4:45:00 PM

By Cpl. Stephen Holt, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs

For the past two months, they were embarked aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), but came ashore to Kuwait in late June to conduct sustainment training.

The Kuwait sustainment training package provided Weapons Company with open desert space for driving and shooting, explained 1st Lt. Matthew Lampert, light armored vehicle platoon commander.

"Before we got off the ship we started planning. We want to use the desert environment to our advantage by doing a lot of long-range shooting and long-range driving," said Lampert, a native of Big Sky, Mont.

One of the main objectives for the company included practicing driving skills in the wide-open spaces of Kuwait's desert.

"It's great out here because the terrain and open desert allows us to maneuver freely and set up vehicle formations and to exercise vehicle tactics," said Sgt. Eduardo Chaidez, light armored vehicle crewman. "While training back in the States you only get a few square kilometers to train in, but out here we can get a few hundred square kilometers to work with."

Few places in the United States mirror the conditions and environment of a Middle Eastern desert, explained Chaidez, native of Sylmar, Calif.

Back at Camp Pendleton the terrain is very different and is filled with vegetation and hills. At Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. the environment is rocky.

A second key advantage to training in Kuwait's vast spaces is the flexibility to conduct training that is normally not permitted at Camp Pendleton. Marines were able to shoot using a simulated street curb as cover and shooting while lying on their backs. This type of flexibility added a lot of value to the training the Marines were getting, explained Sgt. Mike E. Ray, a section leader with Combined Anti-Armor Team 1.

"Being out here, we had a lot of flexibility for what we could do with the Marines," said Ray. "We were able to do things like shoot using a simulated street curb for cover and shooting lying directly on our backs, which is typically something we can't do back in the States."

It's nice to get here and build our own training packages that can hone skills to the specifications we feel are important. This allows us to identify weaknesses and deficiencies and build courses to help correct them."

Because there are fewer units training in Kuwait than in the United States, weapons company has more time to address shortcomings rather than rush off the range to make way for another unit, explained Ray.

"It's great to get these younger Marines out here to see camels, actual Arabic writing and people who live in the Middle East," added Ray.

For the younger Marines who have never deployed, the realism of training in Kuwait helped build their combat mindset.

"I can't get over how hot it is, but I feel that if I were called to Iraq in the future, I'd feel a lot more comfortable going because I've spent time in the Middle East and feel that I know more of what to expect," said Xiang, a 19-year old native of San Francisco.

The Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is a forward deployed force of readiness capable of conducting numerous operations, such as non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance operations and a wide range of amphibious missions.