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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

Camp Pendleton: A Decade in Review

By 2nd Lt. Charlotte Dennis | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | December 30, 2019


Camp Pendleton has long been a strategically significant base for the Marine Corps. Ever since World War II, it has been the West Coast’s premier expeditionary training base with 17 miles of undeveloped coastline and some of the best training ranges in the world. With the new decade around the corner, it is important to reflect on all the major events and achievements that have taken place over the past decade.

In 2010, the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Regiment based in Camp Pendleton deployed for seven months to the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. These Marines would successfully complete the clearing phase of the Battle of Sangin, located on what would come to be known as the bloodiest battleground of Afghanistan, the Sangin district. The success of these Marines allowed for a successful holding phase of the campaign, a strategic victory for the Marine Corps.

Marines with the I Marine Expeditionary Force in 2011 participated in a Maritime Preposition Force exercise entitled Pacific Horizon. The exercise was designed to train Marines and Sailors from Naval Base San Diego on Marine Air Ground Task Force operations, arrival and assembly operations, follow-on actions, crisis response, humanitarian assistance, and amassing combat power ashore from sea. Exercises such as this allow the Marine Corps and the Navy to operate together and ensure operational readiness domestically that can translate to operational readiness abroad.

2012 proved to be a pivotal year for Marine Corps Installations West and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton as they merged into a single command structure. The merge met the intent prescribed by Headquarters Marine Corps to realign installation commands, optimize support to Marine Corps operating forces and tenant commands, and implement more effective means for mission accomplishment. The merge was consistent with efficiency initiatives that are ongoing throughout the Marine Corps.

Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force in 2013 conducted Dawn Blitz, a brigade-size, multi-national, amphibious training exercise, on Camp Pendleton. Dawn Blitz is designed to enhance Marines combat readiness across a broad continuum of military operations such as naval operations, amphibious landings, and advanced fire and maneuver procedures.

2014 marked the first full year of operation of Camp Pendleton’s new naval hospital. The hospital was created to provide the best facilities to service members in and around Camp Pendleton.

Camp Pendleton hosted a regional command post exercise in 2015 entitled Semper Durus. This multi-scenario driven exercise was designed to improve regional command and control, enhance interagency coordination, improve installation capabilities to respond to and recover from a crisis event, as well as implement the installations mission assurance all-hazard plan.

Camp Pendleton hosted in 2016 the Wildland Firefighting Exercise for aviation and ground units as well as CALFIRE and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. The exercise provided an opportunity for these units to train together to combat wildland fires in the region through a cooperative effort to extinguish a simulated wildland fire. The exercise is a practice in the partnership between the military and surrounding fire departments that allows the base to stay safe in the event of wildfires.

The first Marine Corps Marine Information Group (MIG) was created in 2017 under 1 Marine Expeditionary Force on Camp Pendleton. The MIG was created to synchronize our capabilities in the information environment, allowing for this command structure within the MEF to lead its own planning, integration, and execution of information warfare. On Sept. 25, 2017, Camp Pendleton celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Camp Pendleton integrated male and female Marines in March of 2018 into one Marine Combat Training (MCT) company at the Marine Corps School of Infantry (SOI). Before March, the only option for female Marines attending MCT was on Camp Lejeune. This integration marked the first time that males and females could train together in this course on the West Coast. This integration also provided the benefit of West Coast families having the opportunity to see their Marines graduate.

The first female graduated from the Marine Corps Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC) in 2019 on Camp Pendleton. BRC is a 12-week course that equips Marines “with the basic knowledge of reconnaissance doctrine, concepts, and techniques with emphasis on amphibious entry, extraction, beach reconnaissance, Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft (CRRC) operator skills and ground reconnaissance patrolling skills,” according to the Reconnaissance Training Company website.

The future of the Marine Corps sees a focus on installation maintenance. Camp Pendleton will have a focus on not only providing the best facilities possible for all service members, but in doing so with energy conservation in mind. Initiatives to create a better installation are a constant, and energy conservation initiatives are in the works to create an even better base for this next decade. The future of the Marine Corps will also see no desire to feel defined by any particular organizing construct. As per the Commandants planning guidance, the Marine Corps must be ready and able to organize itself in whatever way best fits the current times. From the creation of the MIG within I MEF to the integration of women into every schoolhouse, Camp Pendleton is no stranger to organizing itself to aid warfighters and the United States in the next fight for decades to come.