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Marines take part in a simulated humanitarian mission
About 100 Marines participated in a simulated humanitarian assistance and supply mission held at Kiwanis Park Friday afternoon.
The exercise was the real world application of the knowledge the Marines have been learning as part of the biannual Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course hosted at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.
“All the Marines will get classroom training prior to coming out here, and now they are putting to use what they have learned in the classroom,” said Capt. David Beere, Infantry Instructor with MAWTS-1.
“It is beneficial because it gives a sense of realism to the Marines. They see the houses of the local people, but more importantly it is an opportunity for America to see their Marines in action and know the Marines are training hard to protect them.”
The exercise began when two CH-53 Helicopters touched down on the grassy field and scores of Marines in full combat gear debarked and quickly set up a secure perimeter around the park.
A second wave of helicopters brought in medical personnel who responded to role-playing Marines dressed as civilians who were suffering from various injuries sustained during a “natural disaster.”
“The scenario calls for this being a refugee camp today,” Beere said. “Once they get on deck, they will go through procedures” to treat people “for normal scrapes and bruises. We will inject a couple of situations in there to draw some more casualty play and the Marines will have to respond to that.”
Ensuing helicopter waves followed over the course of about three hours, each bringing in pallets simulating food, water, clothing, and medical supplies which would be needed by a group of stranded people who have endured a natural disaster.
After the supplies had been removed from the helicopters, civilian “casualties” were brought onboard and evacuated during the outgoing flights.
The current exercise is a slight change up for the WTI course. For the past several years, Marines had participated in a Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation in which role-playing Marines portraying civilians at an American embassy inside a hostile foreign country were air-lifted away from the landing zone to safety.
Friday's exercise showed that U.S. Marines are capable of fulfilling many roles when necessary, Beere said.
“Marine Corps is America's force of readiness, and we are called to handle all sorts of missions, whether it is disaster relief in places like Haiti, or full on combat operations in places like Afghanistan.”
Friday's exercise, which was held in conjunction with a second exercise in 29 Palms, Calif., is the culmination of the spring 2013 WTI. The next WTI course will begin in the fall.
The participants of the course will now take the tactics they have learned and share them with their home units where ever they may be stationed.