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Marines Practice Amphibious Assault Tactics At Pendleton

Aired 9/26/11 on KPBS News.

The Marine Corps launches an exercise off the coast of Camp Pendleton this week designed to brush up on skills they haven’t used for a while.

The Marines’ original specialty was as a maritime force ready to respond quickly from the ships off shore. That particular skill wasn’t used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Major General Melvin Spiese, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said the "Dawn Blitz" exercise this week is to bring the Marine Corps and the Navy back up to speed on amphibious assaults.

A landing craft unit from the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado practices loadin...
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Above: A landing craft unit from the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado practices loading onto the USS Bonhomme Richard while the ship was at sea during training exercise. 2010

“There’s a little bit of science in this and a little bit of art,” Spiese said. “Frankly, we’ve lost that. So what we’re going to be doing is re-familiarizing ourselves with all the complexities of ship-to-shore movement: how we set conditions ashore, ensuring enemy defenses are sufficiently reduced so we can move.”

Spiese said smaller groups of Marines have intervened from offshore in places like Libya, but this exercise will practice plans to land up to 15,000 marines in hostile territory.

He says San Diegans traveling up the coast may see more aircraft activity as jets and helicopters fly to and from two navy ships off the coast.

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