9TH ESB performs field training exercise
IE SHIMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines performed a field training exercise Jan. 25 to Feb. 4 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.
The Ie Shima training facility provided essential training the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force cannot get from the Central Training Area.
“The point of coming out to Ie Shima was to test our ability to deploy and also use our command and control capabilities over a wide area,” said Capt. Gabriel Christianson, headquarters company commander with the battalion. “Although we get on trucks, load up gear and get some good training, there is something about getting on boats and aircraft and going into unfamiliar territory which adds a little extra friction.”
The 9th ESB Marines lived the words sang in the Marine Corps hymn, arriving on the Ie Shima by aircraft, land vehicles, landing craft utility ships. The Marines quickly began to build their forward operating base, using over 900 meters of concertina wire and 540 stakes to establish a perimeter and security post.
Setting up security measures for the FOB was the most challenging but also the most crucial concerns when developing a cantonment, according to Sgt. Daniel Isbrecht, the construction chief with the battalion.
“You can’t have a base without security,” said Isbrecht. “I mean you can, but you won’t have a base for too long.”
Once all the security measures were in place, the engineers began building their combat operations center and other support tents for showers, mess hall, laundry, medical and vehicle repair. According to Christianson, these things may seem small in the grand scheme but they play a crucial role to the war fighters.
“The simple amenities we provide not only raise the morale of the Marines but it also keeps them mentally and physically in the fight,” said Christianson. “After spending hours on patrols and sending rounds down range, a simple shower and a hot meal mean a whole lot to Marines.”
On the outskirts of the training facility, the bulk fuel platoon set up shop along the beach, laying down miles of hose across the training area. The hose pumped water at a rate of 600 gallons a minute from the sea to the FOB, simulating what it would be like to receive fuel from an offshore fuel ship.
“Fuel is one of the few things that’ll shut an entire operation down,” said Chief Warrant Officer Pedro Macea, executive officer with Bulk Fuel Headquarters, 9th ESB. “Without fuel for the aircraft and Humvees, troops don’t move.”
While on Ie Shima, the Marines were subject to erratic rain, grimy mud, bone chilling winds and cold. Along with being physically exhausted, the Marines’ mental stamina was put to the test. According to Christianson, the realistic training that Ie Shima offers is a great tool for preparing Marines for real world operation conditions.
“The excellent thing about this location is that it’s cold, it’s windy and it’s raining,” said Christianson. “It may sound a little weird to say that’s excellent but in a real world situation, you’re going to face rough conditions so to the have the opportunity to train in those conditions is ideal.”
As the Marine Corps in the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow as the world’s go-to crisis-response force, the Marine Corps relies on Ie Shima and other Marine Corps Installations Pacific training facilities to further develop III MEF’s ability to respond quickly in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and enables operating force readiness to guarantee victory.