MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — A natural disaster can strike at any moment, destroying infrastructure and pulling apart families. Multiple units from II Marine Expeditionary Force work together to practice and rehearse a contingency plan to prevent such damage as part of a Loading Exercise with Defense Support to Civil Authorities.
Marines and sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Marine Aircraft Group 29 and Combat Logistics Battalion 24 come together annually to run-through what could happen in a catastrophic situation.
Around 200 Marines from those units have the ability to be called back to base at a moment’s notice. Within 48 hours the Marines have the capability to be back at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and ready to be employed where they are needed.
For the rehearsals, the Marines and sailors are bused from Camp Lejeune to Camp Allen, Virginia. While at Camp Allen a gear-set is pre-staged for them to consolidate and practice moving to Little Creek, Virginia. After, they can practice ship to shore landing and beach operations as well as loading and unloading equipment with landing craft air cushions.
The gear is relocated by utilizing about 13 vehicles including humvees and 7-tons. Generators, fuel pumps, construction equipment, water pumps and sustainment supplies like food and water are moved with the vehicles and CH-53E Super Stallions.
These rehearsals closely mirror what CLB 24 is expected to do for disaster relief when deployed with the MEU.
“When practicing this [setup] state-side it hits a little closer to home for the Marines,” said Capt. Brandon Griffith, a logistics officer with CLB 24, “[The Marines] know they can get called to setup at any moment but they also [realize] it could be their family [who need help]. So they understand the importance of training for it.”
This training gives the MEF the capability to react swiftly to natural disasters, enabling the Marines to help those affected.