Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

They're Baaaack....

Over the last few days we've been embarking our MEU for ESG Integration Training. What that means is, we're now dealing with over 2500 Sailors and Marines on the ship instead of the more comfortable 1050 or so. The chow lines get longer, the gym goes to separate PT hours, the ship's store is awash in a sea of camouflage, and of course, Blackhawk Down, Full Metal Jacket and A Few Good Men are back in heavy rotation on TV.

The Marines don't have much to do when we're just transiting from place to place. On the last deployment, we started calling the Marines' routine the Three M's: muscles, munching and movies. When we're participating in an operation, though, they're pretty busy with planning. ESGINT is a week-long exercise intended to flex the Marines' planning and execution skills, and smooth out the wrinkles in the way the MEU and ESG staffs interact. During ESGINT the group and MEU will execute many of the expeditionary tasks that an ESG would be required to execute in a real-world crisis, like an amphibious raid, a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel and naval surface fire support.

We here aboard the flagship have more practice in the integration piece because we got handed two contingencies during our regular training cycle. Last summer we brought a large force of British and Dutch Marines aboard, commanded by the Commandant of the UK's Royal Marines, no less - who by the way is a great guy - and then last month we were sent to participate in an ongoing humanitarian operation/exercise in Haiti. So, we're no stranger to integrating fast and staying flexible to get the job done.

Our MEU, however, is an unknown quantity, hasn't had to practice integration yet, and thus far seems rather...inflexible. We shall see....