The 2nd Marine Division is heading west to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, to conduct the unit’s largest exercise in recent history, the Corps announced.
Roughly 10,000 U.S. Marines, sailors and British Royal Marines will take part in the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Warfighting Exercise, known as MWX 1-20, during the first week of November, a Thursday press release from the 2nd Marine Division said.
In the unscripted exercise, Marines will be equipped with “laser-based equipment” that will register when hit by enemy fire. A hit Marine will then act as a casualty, and the unit will have to medically treat and transport that Marine.
“We’re interested in seeing how the Division conducts combat operations against a simulated adversary with capabilities as advanced as our own in the unforgiving terrain of the combat center,” Maj. Gen. David Furness, the division’s commanding general, said in the press release.
The half-battalion assault is expected to grow to a full battalion exercise in the coming years.
During MWX, the U.S. Marines and simulated advisory ― played by the Royal Marines ―will be using technology such as unmanned aerial surveillance, electronic and cyber warfare, which will “challenge how, and the way in which, they make decisions,” the press release said.
It was “unclear exactly when 2d Marine Division has conducted an exercise of similar scale," 1st. Lt. Joe Wright, a spokesman for the division, said in an email to Marine Corps Times.
But the exercise is part of a pattern of the Corps conducting exercises of increasing size as the branch moves its attention away from Middle East deployments to potential future wars against adversaries like China and Russia.
In June the Marine Corps Times reported that nearly 500 Marines from the 2nd Marine Division conducted the Corps’ largest air assault in at least a decade.
Earlier in October Marines from the 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, conducted the largest test for the new Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation.
Due to the size and use of technology the “MWX will be unlike any exercise held at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center," the press release said.
A Marine exercise of this scale, "force-on-force, multi-regiment outfitted with significant information operations and UAS assets- hasn’t been conducted in the Marine Corps in my lifetime,” Furness said.
“The ‘Follow-Me’ Division is going to learn a lot from this challenge and will be a much better, trained and led organization because of this experience."