US marines, sailors carry out first non-combatant evacuation operation in Oman

U.S. marines and sailors from the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) with U.S. Embassy-Muscat and Royal Omani Police conducted the first non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) exercise in Muscat, September 20-21.

The exercise consisted of amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) supporting an amphibious landing and evacuation of select participants from the U.S. Embassy in coordination with the Royal Omani Police.

Ship maneuvers and planning occurred from September 18.

As the first NEO exercise conducted in Oman by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps assets, the exercise validated the capabilities of the ARG/MEU to execute the critical mission set of crisis response.

“The teamwork exhibited between USS San Antonio, USS Whidbey Island and the chief of mission, U.S. Embassy Muscat, Oman is the foundation behind conducting a timely and effective non-combatant evacuation,” said Brig. Gen. Francis L. Donovan, commander, Task Force 51 Naval Amphibious Force/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

“Our units are integrated with the U.S. Embassy in Muscat, Oman to ensure that we are ready to respond to any contingency as an integrated naval amphibious force,” said Donovan. “While this is an unlikely mission in Oman, it’s important to work with all our regional embassies to ensure our plans are up to date and our procedures are well practiced.”