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Marines with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, exit an MV-22 “Osprey” during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 14, 2016. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Connor Hancock/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Connor Hancock

Marines tested in NEO Exercise

25 Oct 2016 | Cpl. Connor Hancock Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

As members of the nation’s force in readiness, Marines may be tasked to evacuate U.S. citizens abroad in a time of crisis. To prepare, Marines with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One from Yuma, Ariz., conducted a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise aboard the Combat Center, Oct. 14, 2016, as part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-17.

“This training gives Marines important hands-on experience,” said Sgt. Justin Viola, team lead, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group. “The Marines have to identify possible threats in a local populace while evacuating Americans.”

The five-hour exercise began at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. Marines of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, were transported in MV-22 “Osprey” tilt-rotor aircraft and CH-53 “Super Stallion” helicopters before arriving at the Combat Center, where they conducted a simulated rescue of approximately 140 U.S. personnel and local nationals, played by role-players with MAWTS-1 and TTECG.

“Each of the role-players has a specific motive and background story,” said Cpl. Brandon Wards, role-player, TTECG. “This allows us to get into character and challenge the Marines’ decision-making.”

The exercise required aircraft to conduct evacuations at three locations across the installation — Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field, Del Valle Field and Range 220. During the operation, Marines conducted screenings on all evacuees before transporting them to by aircraft back to MCAS Yuma.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms