NEWS | Nov. 13, 2019

MARFORPAC Initiates Simulated Crisis Action Drill: 31st MEU Rapidly Responds

By 2nd Lt. Jonathan Coronel 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa -- The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed a “no-notice” embassy reinforcement and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) exercise October 31, in response to a crisis action drill initiated by Marine Corps Force, Pacific (MARFORPAC). 31st MEU forces demonstrated rapid planning, long-range insertion, execution, and retrograde in under 72 hours from receipt of the mission from III Marine Expeditionary Force.

At 4:00 a.m. October 29, MARFORPAC transmitted a simulated fragmentary order to the III MEF Battle Center, initiating a “no-notice” recall process for 31st MEU staff to begin planning for the mission. Within two hours the MEU stood up its fully-functional combat operations center and convened a crisis action team to assess the situation.

Within 12 hours, the 31st MEU completed the planning process, selecting a versatile mission package of Command Element Marines featuring a Chemical Response Element (CRE) to address the hazard, along with a mix of law enforcement and Force Reconaissance Marines to provide security and reinforce the simulated U.S. embassy. The mission, which simulated a CBRN attack on a U.S. embassy, required a 600-mile air insert of the force by MV-22B Ospreys, aided by aerial refueling by KC-130 aircraft.

Less than 36 hours after receiving the fragmentary order, the CRE landed at the simulated U.S. embassy and rapidly moved into action. Within 3 hours, the CRE decontaminated the embassy and disposed of the simulated hazardous materials. Next, role-players staged a riot, which the law enforcement detachment used escalation of force techniques to subdue before detaining several rioters for transfer to host nation police.

At 11:30 the following morning the scenario escalated, requiring the Crisis Response Force to exfiltrate in full Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear due to another CBRN threat. The MV-22 pilot and air crew also conducted the 600-mile exfiltration flight in full aviation MOPP gear.

Upon completing the flight, the Ospreys landed at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and the Marine Aircraft Group 36 CBRN team conducted full decontamination of each Marine and the MV-22 aircraft.

“The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is the only MEU that remains fully composited 365 days out of the year and stands ready to respond to crisis 24/7,” stated Col. Robert Brodie, the 31st MEU’s commanding officer. “While not afloat, the 31st MEU transitions to the III MEF’s Crisis Response Force. This exercise demonstrated our preparedness to rapidly support MARFORPAC missions countering potential threats against U.S. personnel within the Indo-Pacific region.”

All told the 31st MEU completed the simulated embassy reinforcement and CBRN response mission within 36 hours of receipt of the fragmentary order, demonstrating MARFORPAC’s ability to rely on III MEF, and specifically the 31st MEU, as the 365/24/7 Crisis Response Force in the Indo-Pacific region, standing ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

The 31st MEU, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed MEU, provides a flexible and lethal force ready to perform a wide range of military operations as the premier crisis response force in the Indo-Pacific region.