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military300.jpg Submitted by Steve Rondinaro on Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:21pm.

Camp Lejeune is a very busy place as Marines get ready to ship off to Afghanistan. Their missions are varied, but none more so than the MEU - the Marine Expeditionary Unit. The rapid-response unit launches from ships, landing by sea or by air. It is only the second unit to use the Osprey on deployment. The MEU is trained to carry out 43 diffrerent kinds of missions - from acting as a strike force, to rescuing personnel, to what they did when we visited - responding with medics to a mass casualty scenario. It could be all too real in Afghanistan or Iraq. Lt. Michael Doss describes the scenario: "Two insurgents dressed up as civilians had IED's on them. One of them they stopped before hand, but the other went into the building and blew himself up." "They're going to send in a team of 100 or so Marines to clear the building of threats and treat casualties," adds Sgt. Robert Piper. For medics and corps men, this mission requires a certain mind-set: Assure security before saving lives. "One of the key points of this training is to maintain that security, secure hazards, and then effectively treat and triage and get those casualties out of there," explains Chief Shawn Porter. One of the greatest challenges Marines face in situations like this is figuring out who's friendly and who's hostile. It's often a split-second call, and lives may hang on it. Minimizing civilian casualties was something that was stressed by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen when he spoke to deploying Marines at Camp Lejeune on Monday. Sgt. Piper agrees, that's no small task. "It's always hard," he says. "You have to carefully balance the ability to attack the enemy without putting civilians in danger, which takes a lot of training and a lot of careful tactics and planning. But fortunately, the Marine Corps is good at all of those things and we've been successful at it thus far." At the end of the battle, the Marines know this is as much a war for hearts and minds as it is for territory. The exercise was all about saving Afghan civilians. "People think of the Marine Corps and 'we're going to go in and kick some butt.' At the same time this training today, mass cas training, is not about going in and kicking butt. It's about going in and saving lives and helping out people," says Lt. Doss. It's about helping them out in more ways than medically. Sgt. Piper tells us "it all comes back to securing the area and making the people feel safe." The 24th MEU will have more fire power than previous MEU units, and an armored vehicle designed to fly inside the Osprey. The 22nd MEU is just returning from a seven month deployment.

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