IWAKUNI, Japan -- U.S. Marines and sailors with 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) deployed to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni in order to rehearse distributed operations capabilities beginning Jan. 21, 2021. 3D MEB plays a critical role in the success of III Marine Expeditionary Force’s (MEF) mission in the Indo-Pacific region, serving as the primary scalable, rapidly deployable command and control element for III MEF crisis operations.
By deploying to MCAS Iwakuni, 3D MEB is able to provide real-world practice for the command element and associated augments while they conduct remote operations and logistics planning for crisis response. These rehearsals maintain an ever-ready force, providing III MEF with employment options, both afloat and ashore, depending on the nature and scale of a potential conflict or contingency.
3D MEB logistics and mobility planners had the challenging task of getting Marines and gear where they needed it to be in a timely and efficient manner. Maj. Noemi Aponte, Strategic Mobility Officer, was in charge of logistics for military air flights to MCAS Iwakuni. She and her Marines had to arrange transportation with Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 152, Marine Air Group 12 for approximately 200 Marines and Soldiers, as well as equipment required to carry out the training evolution.
As daily changes arose, she was responsible for maintaining accurate and up-to-date information regarding the status of Marines with her counterparts in the administrative section. She and her Marines also maintained situational awareness of the status of flights and any changes to departure times, available space and weight restrictions and kept the command element aware of all actions and decisions that affected the force. “Rehearsing deployments is very important, as it allows for real-time planning and decision-making and for best practices to be constantly updated,” said Aponte. “It allows 3D MEB to practice and perfect its operations as a rapidly deployable crisis contingency task force.”
The 3D MEB standing headquarters had to remain flexible leading up to, and during deployment of service members to MCAS Iwakuni. The agile nature of 3D MEB preserves the operational flexibility of III MEF and subordinate elements by offering scalable options and rapid employment as a strong nucleus to an alert contingency MAGTF, III MEF Forward, or Joint Task Force Headquarters, all of which are capable of performing multiple functions.
Additionally, all service members were COVID tested prior to beginning training. Medical personnel provided additional COVID-19 education training to the deployed forces, to include discussion about prevention procedures and how their continued diligence benefits readiness and the community.