Exercise Valiant Shield officially begins on Tinian
TINIAN, North Marianas Islands – U.S. service members spent the past two weeks on Tinian preparing the site for participants in Valiant Shield 2014, which commenced Sept. 15 at various locations on land and in the sea, in and around Tinian and Guam.
The approximately 450 Marines, U.S. Navy Sailors and Guam National Guardsmen are part of the estimated 18,000 U.S. forces from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, as well as two aircraft carriers, 19 surface ships, and more than 200 aircraft, participating in Valiant Shield.
“There are other entities coming, and we have laid down a supporting position to provide the logistics the other units need so they can focus on their mission,” said Lt. Col. James Whiteker, the site commander for Tinian and the commanding officer of Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The exercise would be difficult for any other unit outside of III MEF, according to Whiteker, a native of Midland, Texas. The MEF has been regularly deploying to different austere locations in recent years to conduct expeditionary and amphibious training.
Units with III MEF routinely participate in exercises in countries such as Mongolia, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia. They are supporting VS14 with Marines from 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I MEF, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF, and Marine Air Control Group 18 and MWSS-171, both with 1st MAW.
The Marines on Tinian began preparing for the exercise about two weeks ago, according to Whiteker. They have set up multiple tents, chow halls, gyms and even a laundry system to ensure the troops are taken care while serving in a tropical environment.
“The experience our forces gain from working together helps us to provide the best possible support for our allies, partners, and friends in the region,” said Rear Adm. Russell Allen, U.S. Pacific Fleet Valiant Shield exercise lead. “We will continue to be a credible, ready force in this region for decades to come.”
Valiant Shield is a U.S.-only exercise integrating U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps assets, offering joint operational experience to develop capabilities that provide a full range of options to defend U.S. interests and those of its allies and partners. VS14 is scheduled to run through Sept. 23.