GULF OF ADEN --
Female Marines and Sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and female Sailors with amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) participated in Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) training as the MEU female search team aboard Bataan, Aug. 17-20.
The purpose of a NEO is to safely evacuate American citizens and third country nationals from hostile territory. Search teams are responsible for ensuring evacuees are not carrying weapons or other dangerous materials during a NEO.
Throughout the course of the training, participants learned proper search procedures and how to handle various scenarios. Additionally, participants received instruction on rules of engagement, weapons handling and firing in a modified combat marksmanship program.
“If there is an engagement [with a hostile force] at the evacuation control center, they have the tools to defend themselves,” said Staff Sgt. March Kulvanish, platoon sergeant, 1st Platoon, Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team.
During the last day of training, a mock evacuation control center (ECC) was established to provide a more realistic application to the searches.
“I feel comfortable with the training,” said Lance Cpl. Renita Moore, an avionics technician with Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced). “If we need to conduct a NEO, we can go in there with confidence.”
Participants receive sustainment training every two months during the deployment to reinforce the training they received during the course.
The 22nd MEU is currently deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) as the U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, also providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.