Any clime, any place; 3rd MLG establishes expeditionary command post

by Lance Cpl. Matthew S. Myers, III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office
U.S. Marine Corps

ANDERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --  When a crisis occurs, like a natural disaster, it is crucial to unravel the unknowns when forming a response plan. Military planners must use the most up-to-date information for the best chance of success. Gathering this information is not a simple task. It requires a special task force.

The role of the survey liaison and reconnaissance party (SLRP) is to be a forward-deployed, information-gathering entity that provides a commander with crucial knowledge.

Marines with 3rd Marine Logistics Group participated in exercise Marine Logistics Group Crisis Action Module Rehearsal Guam, or MCR Guam, December 18 across multiple locations within Guam.

MCR Guam is a scenario-run exercise that utilizes an expeditionary command-and-control center as well as members of a SLRP. The exercise teaches the basics of a humanitarian aid and disaster-response mission in addition to providing experience for future training or real-world operations.

“In this scenario there was a large scale earthquake in Nepal, so we utilized Guam to replicate that,” said Maj. Marco D. Serna, a plans officer with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and the officer in charge of the exercise. “What we needed to do was replicate ship and air points of debarkation. This allows the Marine Air-Ground Task Force that’s going to be executing Maritime Prepositioning Force operations to facilitate the humanitarian aid and disaster relief response effectively.”

To accomplish its information-gathering goals, the SLRP communicates with local officials and civilians and gathers relevant information. To find shipping ports and expeditionary runways during the exercise, the SLRP contacted authorities at U.S. Naval Base Guam.

“The SLRP might have upwards of 100 people (in a real world scenario) representing not only the command element of the MAGTAF executing the operation, but also other supporting elements,” said Serna, from Corpus Christi, Texas. “They break up into small teams and go work with entities that could be the U.S. embassy and additional supporting groups.”

As the SLRP investigated the area of Guam during the exercise, maintaining communications with the command element was paramount.

“Our main priority is to confirm the research we have done in prior planning before a major force steps into a new or effected area,” said 1st Lt. Erik T. Gjording, a counter-intelligence officer with 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, from Gillette, Wyoming. “We go out and answer all the requests for information and radio back to the COC. Then the COC will plan further and send us back out again to answer additional RFIs. In a perfect world it’s a four-to-five day process.”

One significant benefit of the exercise is the experience the Marines gained while executing the COC setup and SLRP movements.

“This really was a great learning experience for all of us here,” said Lance Cpl. James H. Lovett, a logistics clerk with 3rd MLG Headquarters Regiment, 3rd MLG, from Honolulu, Hawaii. “You get to see how all the training plays out, see what works, what you need to work more on, and through that, everyone becomes more effective.”

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