US Marines Set Sail for #TridentJuncture
US Marine Corps Expeditionary Force Taking Part in NATO Exercise in Norway
U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS New York (LPD 21) and USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) set sail Oct. 3, 2018, to join more than 40,000 international service members taking part in Exercise Trident Juncture 2018. The service members will train in the host nations of Iceland and Norway.
Exercise Trident Juncture 2018, directly supporting NATO’s Readiness Action Plan, is designed to improve total-force readiness, crisis and contingency response, and cooperative security. While operating in Iceland and Norway, the Marines and Sailors will familiarize themselves with partner nations’ methods and procedures to build teamwork and camaraderie in unique, cold-weather environments.
“If you can fight in these conditions, you can fight anywhere,”
“If you can fight in these conditions, you can fight anywhere,” said Sgt. Maj. Christopher Garza, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s sergeant major. “It is a unique opportunity for our Marines and Sailors to deploy and train in a challenging environment and strengthen our skillsets.”
The 24th MEU deployed with its Navy counterpart, the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, and brought service members from Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines; Combat Logistics Battalion 24; and assets from Marine Aircraft Group 29.
The 24th MEU will conduct a variety of training exercises while at sea and ashore. Training will consist of an amphibious landing, cold-weather training, surface assault, aerial assault, fire-support control, and sustainment operations. The multilateral exercise provides the 24th MEU with the opportunity to exercise their amphibious and expeditionary capabilities in a unique environment in support of partner nations.
“The 24th MEU will have the opportunity to deploy with the Navy and enhance our interoperability and teamwork with our Allies and partners,” said Col. Eric D. Cloutier, the commanding officer of the 24th MEU. “This exercise will demonstrate our readiness to deploy forward and fight as a Marine Air Ground Task Force. I’m excited that the 24th MEU has the opportunity to participate. Our Marines and Sailors are prepared and ready to go.”
Mission Rehearsal for Trident Juncture
Marines with II Marine Expeditionary Force are conducting a Mission Rehearsal Exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Aug. 6-12, as part of the MEF’s preparation for the NATO-led exercise Trident Juncture 18.
The purpose of the rehearsal exercise is to work through staff planning processes, communication procedures, command relationships, and to further refine the deployment details for participating units.
“The MRX is a great opportunity to integrate all the elements of the MEF prior to the actual deployment and execution of the exercise,” said Lt. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, commanding general, II MEF.
Service members from across the Marine Air-Ground Task Force, which includes the MEF’s command element, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, are all participating in the MRX.
“We want to ensure every member of our team is prepared for Norway, and for the opportunities and challenges that we’ll face during Trident Juncture,” said Hedelund. “We want to make sure everyone is confident, and appreciates the significance and importance of our participation in this exercise.”
Trident Juncture 18 is part of a planned exercise series to enhance the U.S. and NATO allies’ ability to work together collectively to conduct military operations under challenging conditions. II MEF will support the exercise by sending troops and equipment to train with our NATO allies and partners.
Hurricane Florence Hampers US Marines’ Arrival
Marines and Sailors assigned to II Marine Expeditionary Force worked alongside their Norwegian counterparts Sept. 23-24, to offload and stage the first shipment of Marine Corps vehicles and equipment for NATO’s upcoming exercise, Trident Juncture, in Norway.
The Arrival and Assembly Operations Group, II MEF’s element responsible for planning the logistics of all personnel and gear arriving in Norway, had the challenge of organizing the operation short-handed as many of the Marines who were supposed to conduct the offload were stuck in North Carolina waiting out a hurricane.
Adding to this friction, while Marines and Sailors of II MEF were assisting with hurricane recovery efforts stateside, a significant storm was pounding Norway with high winds that caused power outages for more than 50,000 households, fallen trees, roof damages, and impassable roads struck Norway days before the off-load took place.
However, the partnered U.S.-Norwegian force wouldn’t let a few storms stop them from accomplishing their mission of unloading nearly 200 military vehicles and 78 containers, which was shipped from Wilmington, North Carolina, two weeks ago.
Due to conditions caused by Hurricane Florence, people and resources were pulled from entire combined-joint-interagency team at Vaernes Air Base to complete the offload, said Col. Haakon Waroe, of the Norwegian Army who serves as the base commander at Vaernes Air Base, a primary location where II MEF will operate during Trident Juncture.
The Norwegian Army’s Reception Staging and Onward Movement Battalion, Homeguard-12, and Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization – Marine Expeditionary Brigade, worked through extreme conditions with help from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, both of the 2nd Marine Division, to get the job done. Support was also provided by the U.S. Army’s 51st Truck Company, and Norwegian National Police, Port, and Road Authorities
“Although the ship pulled in and was not ready for discharge as originally planned due to the effects of an extreme weather system, the offload was accomplished as planned in two days,” said Maj. Valerie Schwindt the operations officer for II MEF’s Arrival and Assembly Operations Group. “Rapid planning was used to formulate new plans for the offload, due to the disruption of personnel deployment from Hurricane Florence back in Camp Lejeune, and identify resources [personnel] needed to execute [in Norway].”
The Marines provided light armored vehicle operators to offload the LAVs from the ship and for follow on movements for cleaning, loading and unloading from tractor trailers during transport to Frigaard, another location where Marines will be based during the exercise.
“Road movement and convoys with heavy military vehicles is always a challenge. Norwegian roads are different from I-95. However, most movements (so far) occurred without serious incidents. And that is success in my world,” said Waroe.
Despite the fact that the units involved in the operation have never worked together before, they still managed to get the mission accomplished as planned.
“Seven different organizations, which had not worked together before, came together on a truncated timeline and conducted a successful [off-load] operation,” Schwindt said. “Communication between multiple entities and with changes to the plan, while challenging, was ultimately successful. The units were extremely professional and did an exceptional job.”
Trident Juncture, is scheduled to take place in October and will have approximately 40,000 participants from 30 countries. It is one of the largest NATO exercises led by Norway aimed to develop interoperability and operational readiness between partner nations in extreme cold-weather environment.
II MEF will participate in the exercise throughout the months of October and November.
Image: an Amphibious Assault Vehicle with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit enters the water aboard Camp Lejeune Oct. 3 to embark on USS New York (LPD 21) in preparation for Exercise Trident Juncture 2018. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert Durham