The largest Marine Corps air assault exercise on the East Coast in over a decade takes place Tuesday in Carteret and Onslow Counties. Residents near Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, and Marine Corps Outlying Landing Field Camp Davis should expect an increase in military presence during the training.
Marines with the 2nd Marine Division and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing will conduct Exercise Steel Pike. The training includes about 2,000 Marines, sailors, and soldiers along with 35 aircraft from two Marine Air Groups and an Army Assault Helicopter Battalion from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia.
"One of the key focuses that we will be doing here is trying to make sure that we train against what we would say would be a dynamic thinking enemy on the ground," said commanding officer of the 8th Marine regiment Col. James Ryans. "We spent the last few years doing counterinsurgency operations and we're trying to switch back to something that more matches what the nation's current threats are or potential threats will be. But it also prepares us to do a joint fight. And that is how we would fight, we wouldn't fight by ourselves."
The 8th Marine Regiment will be the command element over the Ground Combat Element comprised of Marines from 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. According to Ryans, the training exercise is named after Steel Pike, an amphibious landing exercise in Spain in 1964 where the 8th Marine Regiment conducted the first Marine Corps heliborne assault.