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Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Special Purpose Force enter a building in the Central Training Area on Okinawa as part of a Training in an Urban Environment exercise last week.

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Special Purpose Force enter a building in the Central Training Area on Okinawa as part of a Training in an Urban Environment exercise last week. (Will Lathrop / Courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps)

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Special Purpose Force enter a building in the Central Training Area on Okinawa as part of a Training in an Urban Environment exercise last week.

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Special Purpose Force enter a building in the Central Training Area on Okinawa as part of a Training in an Urban Environment exercise last week. (Will Lathrop / Courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps)

A Marine searches an “enemy” casualty during the training.

A Marine searches an “enemy” casualty during the training. (Will Lathrop / Courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit spent the last week practicing specialized warfighting skills in the Central Training Area near Camp Hansen.

The unit’s Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) responded to various scenarios in “Combat Town” as part of a Training in an Urban Environment (TRUE) exercise, according to Capt. Burrell Parmer, 31st MEU spokesman. The MSPF is made up of Marines and sailors from the 31st MEU’s Battalion Landing Team — 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment — and the command element’s deep and amphibious reconnaissance platoons. The force is designed to provide special operations capability to quickly accomplish specific missions.

The TRUE exercise kicked off with the Marines and sailors performing “dry runs,” focused on individual and unit techniques, Parmer said. The practices led to raids in Combat Town, where the force was “engaged” by other Marines using “simunitions” — nonlethal paint-filled ammunition.

“It’s a rush being so close to the action, with (simunition) rounds flying all over the place,” Lance Cpl. Mike Lasher, a role-playing aggressor, said in the news release.

The exercise allows the MEU to incorporate unique individual and small unit skills and increase proficiency in the Rapid Response Planning Process, Parmer said. It also allows the unit to practice enhanced urban operations and place emphasis on operations that aren’t traditional to amphibious raid companies.

“This is where the MSPF develops their standard operating procedures for future operations,” Gunnery Sgt. Keith Ross, a close-quarters battle instructor with the III Marine Expeditionary Force Special Operations Training Group (SOTG), said in the release.

While the MEU performs the urban exercise, Parmer said it’s evaluated by the SOTG. This happens every training cycle as part of the unit’s special-operations capable training to maintain the MEU’s “strike from the sea” capability.


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