Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Dec. 28, 2015

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Trains for Humanitarian Assistance, Disaster Relief Mission

By Cpl. Thor Larson 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan -- It’s a scene that has played out in real life and on Hollywood’s silver screen countless times. Service members are deployed to a country, tasked with distributing food, water and other emergency supplies to victims of a disaster. The people are hungry, thirsty, tired and perhaps have lost their homes. In this distressing state, they panic over the thought there won’t be any for them, or there won’t be enough to support their family. The panic spreads, and the crowd becomes a mob, and the mob becomes a riot.

Marines with Golf Battery, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit experienced this same scenario while training to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions as part of Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise 16-1, Dec. 15, on Camp Courtney in Okinawa, Japan.

The mission was one of many the Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU had to complete as part of MEUEX, an exercise designed to prepare the MEU for its upcoming deployment.

“It’s a key mission for the 31st MEU because of the instability and poverty in U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility,” explained Capt. Albert Bellamy, a Wadsworth, Ohio, native, and the commanding officer of Golf Battery, BLT 1/5, 31st MEU. “With the weather patterns, there tends to be natural disasters in this region and they tend to affect the native populations severely,”

Golf Battery, the MEU’s artillery unit, was given the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission with only a short window of time to plan and carry it out, but was ready nonetheless.

“Any unit with the 31st MEU can be tasked with (a HADR mission),” said Bellamy. “And so we have the necessary number of Marines, we have the command structure and we have the equipment able to pull off. It’s not something artillery is generally tasked with though.”

The 31st MEU is capable of handling a wide variety of tasks when supporting a HADR mission. Some of those capabilities include distributing food, creating potable water from seawater, clearing debris and much more.

Because losing control of the situation on the ground can endanger the lives of Marines and the locals they are there to support, the 31st MEU must be trained to safely and effectively restore order and continue to support the HADR mission.

The battery has already received training that makes it an ideal force to help restore order, according to Bellamy.

“The battery is trained as the nonlethal weapons force for the Battalion Landing Team,” explained Bellamy. “That’s an organic capability that came in handy here because, as often happens in a HADR situation, people are panicked, hungry and thirsty.”

Although the battery as a whole is trained in nonlethal weapons, the mortars platoon acted as the nonlethal weapons platoon for the training scenario.

“My role as the nonlethal platoon’s sergeant is to guide (the platoon) basically in providing security for the distribution site where the people are being funneled in to get their resources of food and water,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Morgan, a platoon sergeant with Golf Battery, BLT 1/5, 31st MEU.

Morgan, from San Diego, said he and his platoon came prepared and felt they did a good job.

“We had a good plan going into the actual exercise and we carried it out very well,” said Morgan. “There were some times when it got kind of hectic and may have looked like people were just scattered around, but there was always a method to the madness and the Marines always knew their role and what they were supposed to be doing.”

Though it was just a simulated exercise, the battery Marines put forth every effort to learn from it.

“I think it was a good thing that we went out there and got to practice,” said Lance Cpl. Elvin Colonrodriguez, an artillery cannoneer with Golf Battery, BLT 1/5. 31st MEU. “I think as a whole we all learned exactly how to execute the mission.”

CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM
Facebook

Like Us
Twitter
324,751
Follow Us

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
U.S. INDOPACOM announces establishment of Joint Task Force Red Hill
220630-N-BD629-1009 CAMP H.M. Smith, Hawaii (June 30, 2022) Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Adm. John C. Aquilino addresses members of the media during a press conference announcing the establishment of Joint Task Force Red Hill. JTF Red Hill, in close coordination with the State of Hawaii, will oversee the safe and expeditious defueling of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, demonstrating DoD’s commitment to remove fuel as quickly as possible, in a safe and informed manner, and with full transparency to regulators, intergovernmental partners, and with the people of Hawaii. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon M. Smith/Released)
July 1, 2022 - CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii – Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, announced the establishment of Joint Task Force Red Hill (JTF Red Hill) on June 30.The Secretary of Defense directed the standup of JTF...

Rim of the Pacific 2022 Officially Begins
Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 participants network at the Southern California opening ceremony. Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
June 30, 2022 - U.S. Navy -- Twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 30 unmanned systems, approximately 170 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel will train and operate in and around the...

Chief of Naval Operations, Japanese Chief of Staff Meet to Discuss Maritime Security
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday meets with Chief of Staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Adm. Ryo Sakai during an office call at the Pentagon, June 28. The two leaders discussed maritime security and ongoing efforts to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
June 30, 2022 - WASHINGTON -- Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday hosted the Chief of Staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Adm. Ryo Sakai in Washington, D.C., for an office visit, June 28.The two leaders discussed...

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Peter Haas on Account of U.S. Independence Day 2022
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Peter Haas on Account of U.S. Independence Day 2022.
June 30, 2022 - U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh -- Good afternoon, everyone! And thank you for joining us for this celebration of the 246th anniversary of U.S. independence. Independence Day in America is a day of red, white, and blue; a day of...

The U.S. Provides Immediate Assistance to Respond to Drought in Kiribati
US $500,000 in humanitarian assistance to respond to the drought across Kiribati
June 30, 2022 - SUVA, U.S. Embassy in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu -- The U.S., through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing US$500,000 in humanitarian assistance to respond to the drought across...