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Marines storm Eglin for exercise

SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) -- Marines stormed the beaches of the Eglin Gulf Test Range here Dec. 12 for a weeklong training exercise. The exercise involves ships, a submarine, aircraft and about 1,600 troops from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit of Expeditionary Strike Group Two.

The Air Armament Center's 46th Test Wing airmen here run the range.

This exercise is a transformation in the way training is conducted, said Brig. Gen. Chris Anzalone, Air Armament Center vice commander.

“Our services interoperate on the practice field just like we are going to operate on the real battlefield,” he said.

The exercise, which is scheduled to run through Dec. 17, will involve complex strike group training events, Naval surface fire support training, air-to-ground bombing practice and the amphibious landing of the unit.

Although the exercise is outside the normal scope of weapons test and evaluation, the wing has the capability to provide the best exercise area possible to prepare the Marines for combat operations, said Col. Robert Nolan, 46th Test Wing commander.

“Part of our mission element is to act as the steward of the Eglin range complex,” Nolan said. “As the steward, we are hosting the Marine Corps exercise and giving them a more realistic tool set for their post-exercise evaluation so they can see some of the things they did and get a better understanding of the effectiveness of their training.”

Nolan said he is responsible for ensuring all participants understand the rules for operating on the Eglin Range Complex.

“We have a set of rules ... so that the Marines can get their objectives met and at the same time we can still protect the natural legacy of Northwest Florida,” he said. “The Marines are operating within a mission footprint that provides safety and limits the overall impact of the operation to the range.”

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