Twentynine Palms -- Marines and sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force, Crisis Response, Central Command 17.1 conducted their Certification Exercise (CertEx) aboard the Combat Center, Aug. 22 through 25.
Following months of pre-deployment training including Integrated Training Exercise, CertEx was the final examination for the Marines to prove they are capable of serving as the nation’s premiere crisis response force in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
“During ITX, we prepared for major combat operations,” said Col. Bill Vivian, commanding officer, 7th Marine Regiment and SPMAGTF 17.1. “Those are the core skills that all Marines build before they deploy. In addition, a smaller group who will be facing a deployment in the early fall is preparing for mission specific tasks; that is CertEx.”
The exercise presented the Marines with a gamut of air and ground operations such as a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, reinforcement of an embassy, logistical movements and personnel evacuation; all of which are vital to the crisis response mission, according to 1st Lt. David Williams, public affairs officer, SPMAGTF 17.1.
On Aug. 24 at Range 220, the Combat Center’s largest military operations on urbanized terrain facility, Marines worked with role-players during a noncombatant evacuation operation. They processed U.S. citizens through an evacuation control center, where they underwent identification and medical screening before being transported by aircraft in response to a crisis situation.
“We see ourselves, as Marines, able to accomplish a wide variety of missions,” Vivian said. “Anytime we have a forecast of what our mission might be, we focus on those [requirements] to bring our level of proficiency high on the specific skill set. We are building on the foundation we worked on at ITX to develop the deployment specific skills we might be called on to do during this deployment.”
Given their successful completion of CertEx, these Marines and sailors will be deploying this fall, replacing SPMAGTF-CR-CC 16.2. The MAGTF structure of the crisis response force, organic to the Marine Corps, allows them to quickly and effectively respond to any crisis, across the area of operations.
“We’re ready to respond to any crisis,” Vivian said. “We are kind of like an insurance policy. We will be alert to whatever the nation needs us to do and we are focused on protecting Americans who are over there doing the nation’s work.”