Marines to train off Carpinteria for duty in Persian Gulf
The platforms are key to the struggling Iraqi economy and to the world oil supply. Both factors make them tempting targets for the Iranian navy, which keeps the platforms under constant observation as if probing for defensive weaknesses.
(In April 2004, insurgents attacked one of the platforms with three explosive-laden boats, killing two U.S. sailors and a Coast Guardsman. The boats were blown from the water before the platform suffered major damage.)
So how should the Marines 15th MEU, set to leave for the Persian Gulf region later this year, train for a possible defense of those vital platforms and other structures in that volatile region?
Answer: By using the oil and gas platforms off Carpinteria as training sites for its Maritime Raid Force. Other kinds of training are also scheduled as part of a weeklong exercise to begin Sunday, based out of the Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu.
“The importance of an exercise such as this cannot be understated: our future success depends greatly upon the amount of practice repetitions we have during relevant training exercises,” said Col. Scott Campbell, commanding officer of the 15th MEU.
The Navy is also sending additional mine-sweepers and patrol boats to the Persian Gulf as tensions between Washington and Tehran over the latter’s nuclear aspirations ratchet up.
--Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Oil platform off Carpinteria. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times