KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, Japan -- 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) Marines conducted a Joint Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team rapid deployment drill in support of continued Alert Contingency Marine (ACM) Air Ground Task Force training here Aug. 18, 2020.
The drill was conducted to ensure that the ACM remains postured and ready to deploy in response to crisis throughout the Indo-Pacific, in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The MEB executed the drill with support from two MV-22 Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, out of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
In less than 12 hours, a contingency of about 30 MEB Marines arrived at Kadena Air Base (KAB) from their home stations across Okinawa and boarded an MV-22 Osprey, taking off in a simulated rapid deployment. Upon landing back at KAB, the team established a secure communications link with the III Marine Expeditionary Force command center, simulating the first steps in a real-world deployment of the JHAST.
“Drills such as these ensure that 3d MEB remains prepared to respond to a crisis on short notice,” said Col. Michael Wylie, 3d MEB chief of staff. “Whether we are asked to deploy to assist our partners and allies as a part of a foreign humanitarian assistance operation or in response to a contingency that is kinetic in nature, we need to be ready.”
When the ACM is activated, 3d MEB assumes responsibility for immediate response to crises in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility that require military action, ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to armed conflict.
The JHAST is the expeditionary command team in charge of the U.S. military’s response to requests for humanitarian assistance. The JHAST remains on call and ready to deploy within 12 hours to disaster areas in order to establish an initial assessment of required support for follow-on assistance.
The decision to deploy the JHAST comes after close consultation between U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the U.S. State Department after humanitarian assistance is requested by disaster affected nations.
In order to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19, strict health safety protocols were implemented throughout the rapid deployment drill.
“The purpose of this ACM drill is to validate standard operating procedures and ensure the MEB is prepared to execute its duties and responsibilities,” said Maj. Chad Pimley, 3d MEB current operations officer.
The INDOPACOM area of responsibility is one of the most disaster prone areas in the world. 60% of the world’s natural disasters occur here, ranging from weather disasters to seismic event. In recent years, 3d MEB has responded to the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, 2013 Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
“The MEB continues to conduct essential, realistic training while adhering to strict safety protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We are prepared to deploy in support of our allies and partners throughout the region,” said Pimley. “Disasters do not stop just because the world is facing a serious pandemic.”
Continuing to conduct drills like these postures 3d MEB to help wherever needed in the region at a moment’s notice and ensures the MAGTF is ready to fight now in support of U.S. allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific.