Iwo Jima ARG, 26th MEU conduct non-combatant evacuation operation drill

Components of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) drill Nov. 12 as part of its Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).

A NEO is the safe evacuation of personnel in the event an emergency situation arises in a foreign country. USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted the drill to train personnel in case the need to conduct such an operation arises during their upcoming deployment.

“This is a vital piece of what we may encounter when we deploy,” said Lt. Aaron Fish, Iwo Jima’s NEO coordinator. “This is literally an all-hands effort; everyone on the ship has a key role to play. Whether it’s checking them into the ship, acting as an escort or any number of positions, the fact that everyone onboard is committed to the exercise helped this become a success and something to build off of into the future.”

Iwo Jima’s hangar bay was divided into separate stations, including administrative, medical, security and supply. Supply personnel provided food and water while security created an identification database for all of the “evacuees.” Each evacuee filled out census forms to account for themselves and their families.

Other key events during the exercise included a pair of medical emergencies, something Iwo Jima’s medical team knows it must be prepared for during an actual event.

“Whether an exercise or real-world, the kinetic operations of the amphibious ready group we support mandate that Navy Operational Medicine is ready at all times,” said Capt. Brian Feldman, amphibious task force surgeon and commander of Fleet Surgical Team 8. “Integration with all of the shipboard emergency systems from litter bearers to tactical communications, demonstrated in dividends the impressive medical capability of this platform, when it’s put to the test. It takes an incredible group of individuals to make this happen and I’m proud of each and every one of them.”

Iwo Jima crewmembers played the role of evacuees arriving via aircraft during the exercise.

“I thought everything went pretty well,” said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Leighna Chambers, who played an evacuee during the drill. “It was fun to act a part and it shows how the ship can really work as a team.”

Iwo Jima, components of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are conducting a Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise that is the culmination of training for the Navy-Marine Corps team and will certify them for deployment.

The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th MEU and is comprised of Iwo Jima, the dock transport ship USS New York (LPD 21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2 and the embarked staff of PHIBRON 4.

Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group

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