Marines offload equipment in preparation for Korean exercises
GWANGYANG, South Korea -- Marines deployed to Gwangyang, Republic of Korea Feb. 24 on a maritime prepositioning force ship, the USNS Sacagawea, to participate in exercise Freedom Banner 2014, to conduct camp-building operations and to offload equipment which will be used to support other exercises.
Freedom Banner, which began March 10 and extends through Apr. 17, will project U.S. military power and offloading capabilities similar to what would occur during a wartime or disaster relief scenario, while giving Marines an opportunity to strengthen ties between the ROK and U.S. Marine Corps forces.
“What we want to convey with this exercise is our military power and crisis response capabilities,” said Maj. David I. Eickenhorst, the Freedom Banner operations officer and G-3 future operations officer with III Marine Expeditionary Force Command Element. “Maritime prepositioning force ships allow us to have the ability to project power anywhere within the world there could be a crisis, or quickly act in a humanitarian aid situation.”
Maritime prepositioning force ships are a significant asset to the U.S. military because the U.S. is the only country that has them, according to Eickenhorst.
“These are important because we may need to go anywhere, all over the globe, and the ships allow us to go wherever we need to act quickly in cases where we have no standing presence in that specific country,” said Eickenhorst. “For exercise Freedom Banner, our MPF ship, the Sacagawea, will be making a pier-side offload of gear which will be used in the camp and that offload is similar to how we would unload equipment during real-world operations.”
Marines from various units under the III MEF traveled on the naval vessel to participate in Freedom Banner 2014.
“We have Marines and sailors here from supply, maintenance, medical, logistics, food service, civil affairs, and a variety of other sections,” said Maj. Ronnie D. Michael, the executive officer for 3rd Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF, and the landing force supply party officer in charge during the exercise. “This is a unique learning opportunity for everyone because we are a task organized force which will be working with civilians on a merchant marine-run MPF ship in a country where many Marines have never been.”
Once in port, Marines with the landing force support party moved equipment from the deck of the Sacagawea to the dock, according to Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Arcuri, logistics and embarkation specialist with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF.
“We’ll be offloading equipment like ammunition, tactical vehicles, ambulances, (food), generators and trailers which will be used throughout the exercise,” said Arcuri. “Everything is offloaded from the ship via crane. We’ll have our Marines preparing the equipment so we can transport it off the ship.”
Conducting the offloading prepares Marines for real-world operations, according to Capt. Joseph R. Petkus, a company commander with 3rd Supply Battalion.
“The ability to put power ashore quickly and efficiently is one of the pinnacles of the Marine Corps and our amphibious capabilities,” said Petkus. “This exercise is going to allow us to showcase and exercise that capability of conducting a maritime preposition force ship offload.”