9th ESB prepares for deployments with mobility exercise
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines may receive the call to deploy to a crisis or contingency at any time, and maintaining operational readiness is the key to succeeding once they arrive. To maintain the high state of readiness demanded of all Marines, perfect practice is required.
Marines with Bulk Fuel Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, trained to increase their response time in the event of a call to action during a mobility exercise June 18 at Camp Hansen.
9th ESB organizes exercises to ensure the readiness of the unit in case a disaster strikes during the typhoon season on Okinawa, according to Gunnery Sgt. Ralph M. Wright, an operations chief with Bulk Fuel Company, 9th ESB, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“Within a moment’s notice a (typhoon) can occur anywhere in the region,” said Wright, a Staten Island, New York, native. “Okinawa entered typhoon season this month, so we can be called upon to load up and deploy for support missions.”
Once Okinawa enters typhoon season, III MEF units begin preparation for the possibility of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, according to Cpl. Matthew D. Wilson, a bulk fuel specialist with the battalion.
“Two years ago in Thailand, the Royal Thai Air Force was grounded because their entire airport was (flooded with) four feet of water,” said Wilson, a Coeur d’Alene, Indiana, native. “We went there with our pumps and moved water out of the airport.”
During the mobility training, many of the Marines spent a substantial amount of time inspecting and repairing the equipment used to redirect water, according to Lance Cpl. Benjamin D. Worster, a bulk fuel specialist with the battalion.
“It’s important that our gear is perfect, up to date and (functional),” said Worster, a Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, native. “When we get out there we won’t have the problem of having to find things and fix it.”
For some of the Marines with the unit, this was their first mobility exercise, but that did not slow down the effort, according to Wright.
“They just came out of training, and they look forward to (deployments),” said Wright. “They’re excited; in the back of their minds, ‘I’m going to leave Okinawa and go to another country to make a difference while doing my job.’”
During Operation Damayan, the U.S. military’s response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Republic of the Philippines, the rapid deployment of critical pieces of equipment demonstrated the importance of having a plan ready and fresh in everyone’s minds.
“I can see us doing this once a quarter to keep our readiness up,” said Wilson. “We’re expecting new (Marines), and they won’t have this experience. I expect them to run this again to tighten those loose screws and show the new guys how it’s done.”
To maintain these lifesaving skills, units based in the Pacific will continue to train to a high level of readiness for any possible scenario, according to Wright.
“Being in this region, it’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but it’s a matter of ‘when’ (we’re needed),” said Wright.