SALALAH, Oman --- Exercise Sea Soldier 17, led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and hosted by the Royal Army of Oman, is an annual, two-week-long bilateral exercise designed to enhance communication and coordination between U.S. and Omani forces, build mutual warfighting capability and support long-term regional cooperation.
This year's Sea Soldier exercise began Feb. 19.
"Bilateral exercises, like Sea Soldier, are great opportunities for Marine Expeditionary Units, because Marines can disembark ships and conduct combat sustainment training in new, unfamiliar environments," said Marine Corps Col. Clay C. Tipton, the 11th MEU's commanding officer. "They have a chance to interact and learn from warriors of a different culture, and these exercises are conducted with key partners in the region to strengthen our collective ability to work together should we have to face emerging crises in the future."
The training includes: military operations on urban terrain, building clearing, checkpoint operations, command-and-control procedures, counter-improvised explosive device training, live-fire ranges, squad-to-company tactics, mortar ranges, and a culminating final exercise, which will be a combined Omani-U.S. raid.
"Every opportunity we have to position and launch the landing forces embarked aboard the [USS] Somerset is also an opportunity for our sailors to exercise their technical and tactical expertise," said Navy Capt. Darren Glaser, commanding officer of the USS Somerset. "Coming together as a larger, blue-green team in support of an exercise or a real world operation is exactly what we train to do."
U.S. units participating in Sea Soldier are the 11th MEU's Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; Combat Logistics Battalion 11; the MEU's Command Element; and the USS Somerset. The Marines and sailors debarked from the USS Somerset, Feb. 15, to prepare for this year's Exercise Sea Soldier.
Arriving in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations late November, the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group includes the USS Makin Island, which is the command ship for Amphibious Squadron 5 and the 11th MEU, the USS Somerset and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock.
While in the region, the Southern California-based Navy-Marine Corps team falls under Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and will help ensure the free flow of commerce, provide crisis response and support ongoing missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.