The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, pictured in the Atlantic Ocean on March 4, is conducting training with Amphibious Squadron 4 and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. Photo by Brenton Poyser/U.S. Navy
March 25 (UPI) -- The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed Thursday following a monthlong composite training exercise, the Navy announced.
The 24th MEU is the first East Coast MEU to embark ships with the military's new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a versatile ground transport vehicle now in use by all ground elements in the unit, according to a Navy press release issued Thursday.
The JLTV was developed by the Marines and the Army to replace the Marines' aging fleet of Humvees.
Its manufacturer, Oshkosh Defense, announced last month that it had produced 10,000th JLTV -- and has nearly 10,000 more on order.
"As the nation's crisis response force, the ARG-MEU team must remain ready to respond at a moment's notice when crises arise," Col. Eric D. Cloutier, commanding officer of the 24th MEU, said in the release.
"This exercise gave our team the opportunity to train how we fight across a range of military operations, providing a force-in-readiness to the fleet that is prepared to decisively engage when called upon," Cloutier said.
During the training exercise, the Blue-Green team responded to simulated attacks by hostile aircraft, ships and submarines in real time.
The exercise included a live-fire raid, in which nearly 100 Marines and sailors converged on targets at the newest range at Camp Lejeune, where the unit is based.
It also included an amphibious assault by a fighting force of nearly 600 Marines and sailors.
The Navy's release also notes that the Navy-Marine Corps team "took a deliberate approach to maximizing readiness through pre-deployment training while also joining forces to combat COVID-19."
Military personnel also adhered to a restriction of movement before embarking on the exercise, while continuing to wear masks and observe in other health and safety mitigations.
The units were also among the first prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccines once they were approved for emergency use, the Navy said.