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U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit line the flight deck of the USS Boxer as the ship shoves off from Naval Base San Diego, Feb. 12, 2016. Their departure Marks the official start of Western Pacific Deployment 16-1. Families of the deploying troops waved and shouted to the ship from land as it passed through the harbor. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Paris Capers/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Paris Capers

13th MEU Marines hit the high seas

16 Feb 2016 | Sgt. Paris Capers 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

After six grueling months of pre-deployment training, the Marines and Sailors of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit shoved off from Naval Base San Diego Feb. 12, 2016, to thunderous applause and cheering from family, friends and supporters.

“The 13th MEU back in the water means America has its 9-1-1 force back at the point of the spear,” said Lt. Col. Jackson Doan, operations officer for the 13th MEU. “[We are] forward deployed and ready to respond to any crisis action in the full range of military operations, from humanitarian assistance to full kinetic operations — up to and including combat.”

Completing the 13 mission-essential tasks required of a MEU requires the Marines to be flexible and — as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force — the Fighting 13th is no exception to this rule. Its Marines are tempered by months of training and drive to succeed.

“The MEU is ready, responsive and resilient by design,” said Doan. “As a MAGTF, we encompass all elements of organic equipment and capabilities the Marine Corps possesses. With our Navy counterparts at sea with amphibious operations, we can respond to any crisis coming from sea, land or air. We are ready due to our increased and continual training and we are resilient because the MEUs internal sustainability that allows us to posture away from the ship for an extended period.”

The Marines of the Fighting Thirteenth are barely a week into their deployment, but their focus is already on what’s coming next. These Marines have trained, continue to train, and are ready for whatever missions may arise.

Marines like Sgt. Scot Seitz, a Marine aboard the USS Boxer, has kept his Marines engaged with physical fitness while they navigate the Pacific.

“To stay ready, my Marines and I do physical training daily — either with group PT or by ourselves in the gym,” Seitz said. “Alongside that, I am a Marine Corps Martial Arts instructor, so I will be teaching the physical, mental and character disciplines that will help keep them engaged and grow them individually.”

The daily engagement troops like Seitz has with his Marines will keep their warrior skills sharp, so they are able to respond to whatever the nation needs, wherever it needs it.

“Historically, the MEUs have been conducting noncombatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance operations and security missions throughout the AO,” Doan said, explaining the tasks that MEUs have taken up in recent rotations. “Some of the missions can range from theatre security cooperation with coalition forces, training and tactics exchanges, as well as supporting host nation forces.”

No one can say with absolute certainty where in the world the 13th MEU and BOXER Amphibious Ready Group will go, but the leadership of the Fighting 13th has no illusions about America’s expectations when the time comes to send in the Marines.

“Any clime and place is our motto, so the Marines and Sailors can expect to meet jungle biomes, cold mountain ranges, deserts and other high-temperature environments,” according to Doan.

For a force 4,500 strong, there is a lot of responsibility resting on their shoulders, but they are bolstered by the support of their family and friends stateside.

Doan had a few words for those taking care of the home front.

“To the families - your Marines and Sailors are trained to the highest extent. They are confident, motivated and ready to do what our country asks of them. With that being said, you can rest assured they have certainty in their minds and there is no challenge out there they are not ready for.”


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