City of St. George Assistant City Manager Marc Mortensen said the Marines used the airport last year as well, and it was an honor for the city to be able to provide them the space to work in.
“The facility is 12,000 acres,” he said. “It is more than accommodating for their type of operation in addition to all of the other operations that occur out at the airport.”
According to the requests filed with the city, the scheduled drill is to occur March 21 to 23. There will be two different training exercises conducted, that include 130 Marines, the request reported.
The first exercise will be a realistic urban training drill designed to teach Marines how to operate in an unfamiliar environment during the intermediate portion of their pre-deployment. The RUT drills will challenge Marines ability to conduct both conventional and specialized missions through “realistic training events” that will simulate actual life events.
Additionally, Marines will be required to plan and execute a Forward Arming and Refueling Point exercise at another location near the airport. The FARP mission will help to support other concurrent missions that are taking place outside of St. George.
Captain Josh Diddams, public affairs officer for the 11th MEU said the unit has no clue that St. George is a target destination. He said the drills planned are all part of a much larger training drill that will originate about 250 miles from Camp Pendleton at Fort Hunter Leggit, because the plan is to simulate an expedition.
He said that typically, Marines would arrive ashore by Navy ship and set up a base camp to operate missions – Fort Hunter Leggit will be that base camp for the 11th MEU. He said that from there, the unit of 2,500 Marines would separate and deploy in smaller groups to conduct various missions, and the mission and location will be a surprise to the Marines involved.
According to the request documents, those missions will take place throughout Calif., Nev. and Utah.
“The reason why the training group that runs our training selects different locations for us to conduct raid, tactical recovery missions and things of that sort (is, because) they want to add the element of surprise for us,” Diddams said. “One of the reasons why they chose St. George is, because we don’t go there that frequently.”
He said it’s important to challenge Marines by offering them unfamiliar terrain to explore, so that they are better versed in how to handle different situations.
Diddams said it’s important that community members in St. George understand that the drills planned to occur at the airport will in no way impact the livelihoods of civilians. He said RUT drills would not disrupt the everyday happenings in St. George at any time.
“You’re not going to have Marines running through your streets,” he said. “We are not going to interfere with what you have going on, we are using the airfield, but we are going to be connecting stuff to outside of the city.”
According to a press release, training was coordinated state and local officials, as well as federal agencies to ensure safety of all those involved.
“The Marines respectfully request that local citizens who find themselves near the training venues keep a safe distance for themselves and for the safety of the service members.” It reported.
More information about the U.S. Marine Corp 11th Expeditionary Unit is available at www.11thmeu.usmc.mil