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Marines head to Los Angeles for urban combat training

One of the most populated and busiest parts of the world is turning into into a training ground for Marines who are preparing for a deployment.

From Dec. 5 through Dec. 16, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is holding urban combat training exercises in Los Angeles and other parts of the metropolitan area.

"Realistic urban training allows the Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU to exercise vital skills to better prepare them for what they may face while forward deployed," said Col. Vance L. Cryer, the 15th MEU's commanding officer. "Bringing together the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force in an exercise such as this one allows us quality, realistic training that is essential for unit readiness."

Parts of downtown in the Ccity of Los Angeles will be used for the exercise, as will nearby locations in Los Angeles County, Capt. Brian Block, spokesman for the unit, said.

Of the several exercises included in the training schedule, Marines will have a surgical- and tactical-strike event in the city proper. It will involve just a few dozen Marines who fly in on V-22 Ospreys, Block said.

"It's not like we're coming to shore in Iwo Jima in L.A.," Block said.

The MEU includes a command element as well as Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (reinforced), a unit that flies the V-22 Osprey and the AH-1Z Viper; and Combat Logistics Battalion 15.

Officials are not giving the exact location or time when the events will occur in order to deter spectators who might interfere with the drills. Marines coordinated with officials from every level of government in order to prepare for the urban combat training and they they also made sure that military and and local air traffic would not conflict, Block said.

The exercise also includes training in Northern California and military bases in Nevada and Arizona. In terms of the geographic range, it's the largest area the MEU has used for an urban combat training exercise, Block said.

"This is the first time, as a MEU, that we've done this," he said.

He said the large training area is possible because the V-22's range allows Marines to span long distances faster than ever before.

The urban combat training is one aspect of the MEU's preparations for a spring deployment. The unit is scheduled to head to the Western Pacific and the Middle East in the spring, and the the unit will train with amphibious ships in January or February, Block said.

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