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Pendleton Marines Storm Beach In Coordinated Exercise

A Marine aims his weapon during an exercise at Camp Pendleton, April 13, 2017.

Photo by Matthew Bowler / KPBS

Above: A Marine aims his weapon during an exercise at Camp Pendleton, April 13, 2017.

A group of 2,500 Marines wrapped up the major portion of their training Thursday with an amphibious assault landing on Red Beach at Camp Pendleton.

The exercise comes at a time when Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, a former marine general, is asking Congress for $30 billion to help with readiness, which the secretary said has been harmed by mandatory budget caps.

Lt. Col. Richard Alvarez commanded the exercise at Pendleton. He said the exercise went off without major issues.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Lt. Col. Richard Alvarez explains the amphibious assault operation at Camp Pendleton, April 13, 2017.

The Navy's amphibious ships USS America and USS San Diego are part of a massive exercise at a time when Pentagon leaders question whether the U.S. is spending enough on readiness.

“As far as the budget readiness, that’s not something I can comment on," Alvarez said. "But for 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, we have all of the equipment. We have everything we need to continue to train for deployment.”

The Marines of the 15th Expeditionary Unit have been training for months, but this was their first large scale attempt to coordinate with the Navy. In the exercise, Marines combined with Navy ships USS America and USS San Diego.

The Marines then stormed a mock village filled with unnamed enemy combatants and civilians. Their task was to separate civilians from the people attempting to kill them. After the exercise Thursday, the unit is nearly ready to deploy to the western Pacific later this year, Alvarez said.

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