Marine Forces Europe demonstrate offload capability in Crete
SOUDA BAY, Greece — Marines and sailors of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe are concluding a nearly month-long exercise here which demonstrated the ability to produce combat power from maritime pre-positioned shipping (MPS), and leaders and observers alike deemed it to be a successful evolution.
"The Maritime Pre-positioning Force (MPF) Exercise conducted at Souda Bay was extremely important in that it allowed us to showcase, in detail, a major capability to our allies in the region," said Col. Stephen M. Hoyle, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, Marine Forces Europe.
As the Marine Corps service component for the U.S. European Command, MARFOREUR is responsible for the pre-positioning of equipment and supplies within its vast and varied area of responsibility. Directing the offload of weapons, vehicles, gear and sustenance needed to support a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) for 30 days is a key capability within that designation.
"The exercise accomplished three major items for the Marine Corps itself," said Hoyle. "It enabled Marines to conduct analysis on the new requirement to re-assemble armored medium tactical vehicle replacements (MTVRs) in order to gain an understanding of the impact this will have on doctrinal stand up times for a MEB. It helped us to develop business rules and procedures when utilizing wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies to track assets. Finally, it enabled us to examine the feasibility of using a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) command element to command and control an MPF offload and provide those lessons learned back to the Corps."
As the lead agency, Marine Forces Europe was pleased to host Lauri Tumm, Undersecretary for Defense Planning at Estonia's Ministry of Defense, who pointed out that our militaries must plan not only for the most likely scenario, but for the most demanding.
"There is no inherent conflict between collective defense and expeditionary capabilities," said Tumm. "Maritime pre-positioning is a very nice way of projecting force in a peaceful yet bold manner. Let's conduct business as usual, but let's conduct it in a prudent way."
Fellow Estonian Riho Rongelep, Director of Operations and Crisis Management, Estonia MOD, echoed the undersecretary's praise for the cooperation displayed by Marines and sailors of the numerous units taking part.
"There was admirable organization for an exercise of this nature, particularly the way different units were pulled together for the mission," said Rongelep.
In addition to MARFOREUR and the 15th MEU, participating units included the 4th Landing Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, Naval Beach Group 2, Military Sealift Command, Blount Island Command, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, and Maritime Pre-positioning Ship Squadron 2.
Counterparts from other partner nations in the NATO alliance, also on hand to observe in order to further their own logistical capabilities, came away impressed by the experience.
"The Marines were very professional in trying to build up this heavy equipment for the first time from these ships," said Latvian Capt. Didzis Veidenbaums, Section Senior Officer of the Department of Special Support and Transportation, Latvia Ministry of Defense (MOD). "Everyone was familiar with what they had to do. There was no confusion."
"To see how it's all contained in pre-positioned shipping, and to talk to people actually doing the offload - the sergeants, the corporals - and getting their perspective, that was a highlight for us," said Valdis Bucens, Head of Mobilization and Host Nation Support Planning for Latvia MOD.
"This was a really good example of military-to-military cooperation," added Bucens.
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