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At Dodgers Stadium, Marines Put Boots On The Ground


People in Los Angeles are used to hearing helicopters overhead - police, movie shoots, news and this week, military operations.


RATH: The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit has been using downtown LA to train for urban warfare. They're practicing fighting in a city, dealing with local police, civilians, unfamiliar streets and alleys. The biggest exercise so far has been a mock raid at Dodgers Stadium, complete with air support, although they weren't using live ammunition.


RATH: I called the unit's commander, Col. Vance Cryer, whose managing the operation from a busy operation center in Monterey. California. He described the plan behind the Dodgers Stadium raid.

COL. VANCE CRYER: Well, this is part of a larger exercise that's called RUT, or realistic urban training exercise for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. In this particular situation, we were coming in to do a raid site on a suspected arms dealer who was working out of the stadium kind of on the side producing IEDs and that type of thing.

RATH: The fake Dodgers Stadium raid involved a lot of planning - about 100 Marines plus local police, stadium security and medical services. I asked Cryer why the effort was worth it, especially since the unit has sophisticated training facilities here in Southern California.

CRYER: So, you know, we're fairly confident that if the enemy invades Camp Pendleton that we're going to win, right? So, you know, we partner with the local communities, and we're an extension of those communities. And so they give us an opportunity - unique opportunity - to put the Marines into situations, into terrain that they are unfamiliar with. And we challenge their decision-making ability. And we get to work on the complexities of the legal, moral and ethical aspects of today's complex environment.

RATH: And when you're doing the activities, you know, say in the city of Los Angeles, what kind of measures do you take to avoid spooking people so they don't think oh my goodness, what's coming that the Marines have to protect us from?

CRYER: This is a really - it's a very, very organized and well-planned - a year in advance - with the community. The 1st Marine Expeditionary force, my higher headquarters, they do all the training and equipping. And they have safety observers in place. They've got people, for example, in the tower with the FAA, riding with the police officers, with security at the stadium and working with the managers there at the stadium, medical response on alert. Everything's in place to respond and or take care of and prevent accidents.

RATH: Col. Vance Cryer is the commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Pendleton. He's currently running urban combat training exercises across Southern California and here in Los Angeles. Col. Cryer, thanks very much.

CRYER: Hey, thank you very much. Have a great day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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