TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The latest Combined Arms Exercise warriors have arrived.
More than 2,000 Carolina-based Marines and sailors are currently at Camp Wilson here. And by week's end, 3,000 Marine Air Ground Task Force 2 personnel will occupy the camp southwest of garrison headquarters.
Commanded by 2nd Marine Regiment Commanding Officer Col. Ronald Bailey, the MAGTF will begin what many call the Corps' ultimate training exercise later this week.
The St. Augustine, Fla., native will lead the culmination of the MAGTF's entire weapon inventory. The exercise is highlighted by tanks, machine-guns, helicopters and grenades - just to name a few. All will be aimed at a fictitious enemy.
As always in the dry desert heat, rest and hydration is a main leadership concern. Although Carolina does occasionally reach 100 degrees, many MAGTF service members rarely see the continuous 100 degree plus Mojave Desert temperatures.
Lance Cpl. Billy R. Jackson, a multi-channel high frequency radio operator, has spent most of his Marine Corps time in Okinawa, Japan, before coming to 2nd Marines for his first CAX.
He said it is his first exercise in a while, so he is looking forward to how the MAGTF will all come together.
"It should be cool -- training wise," the Miami native said. "There will be a lot more flying ... close air support."
Lance Cpl. Paul R. Parker III, who's seen his share of CAXs (two others), said he will help the younger Marines, just as his father, Master Gunnery Sgt. Paul R. Parker Jr. has helped him.
The Oceanside, Calif., native said being a MUX operator is like the next generation in communications. His father attended his first CAX leading Marines in 1978 as a radio-operating lance corporal.
"He is always there for advice," Parker III said about his paternal mentor, who is now the operations chief with 8th Communication Battalion at Camp Lejeune.
Maj. Gen. John Sattler, 2nd Marine Division commanding officer, talked about leadership and training as he bid the MAGTF farewell Friday at Lejeune.
The former 2nd Marines commanding officer challenged his leaders to ask themselves nightly, "When the sun sets tonight, will my 'warriors' be better trained?"
Sattler is scheduled to visit MAGTF-2 later this month here.
CAX-9 is scheduled to conclude sometime in mid-August.
Command Element 2d Marines
Ground Combat Element 1st Battalion, 2d Marines
Aviation Combat Element Marine Air Group 29
Combat Service Support Element Combat Service Support Detachment 22