NEWS | Feb. 23, 2021

Pacific-based Marines, Navy Complete Integrated Training for Joint Exercise

By Sgt. Averi Coppa

OKINAWA, Japan -- III Marine Expeditionary Force Exercise (MEFEX) 21, a joint exercise that further enhanced the Navy-Marine Corps team’s ability to respond to crises or contingencies, concluded February 12.

During MEFEX, III MEF in direct coordination with U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet conducted realistic training at each echelon of its command to train III MEF staff in the planning, deployment, and command and control of a force of more than 25,000 service members who are postured forward across Japan and Hawaii.

The exercise focused on further integrating the ability of III MEF and 7th Fleet to work together across the Indo-Pacific region. MEFEX helped refine the concept of distributed maritime operations, allowing Marines and Sailors to maneuver, resupply, communicate, fight, and win while overcoming numerous challenges of operating far from larger bases.

The concept of seizing and establishing advanced naval bases is not a new concept, according to U.S. Navy Cmdr. Matthew Armstrong, the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Future Plans with U.S. 7th Fleet, and the Liaison Officer for 7th Fleet during MEFEX 21. Technology and the capabilities of Marines have changed, and we need to continue improving inter-service communication.

“MEFEX allows III MEF and 7th Fleet to learn from each other in a realistic way, and to work together on modern operating concepts” said Armstrong. “Being able to understand what each other is doing, and being able to get what you need from the other organization is extremely helpful. This will help our war fighting readiness going into a conflict.”

“Sailors and Marines cooperated as an integrated force across the waters of the Indo-Pacific, expanding our capability as a lethal force in support of our partners and allies.”
Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, III Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general
7th Fleet and III MEF regularly conduct staff exchanges between Okinawa and Yokosuka for regular operations, and they plan to incorporate a permanent liaison officer at III MEF.

“This year’s MEFEX was tremendously successful in validating our warfighting concepts,” said Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, III Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general. “The drills and scenarios allowed us to collaborate and overcome challenges together with our 7th Fleet partners, and that experience has set a strong foundation for the Navy and Marine Corps to respond to crises at a moment’s notice.”

MEFEX participants rehearsed dispersed command and control throughout the area of operations to enable battlespace awareness and expeditious, informed decision-making in a contested environment.

“Sailors and Marines cooperated as an integrated force across the waters of the Indo-Pacific, expanding our capability as a lethal force in support of our partners and allies,” said Clardy. “Joint operations make us more reliable anywhere in the theater, further enhancing our ability to fight now.”

We encourage everyone to watch the video overview of III MEF’s new “Fight Now” warfighting concept to find out about the current and future direction of the Navy and Marine Corps team in the Indo-Pacific region. The video is located on the official III Marine Expeditionary Force YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/GF3UsFueeTI