US Marine Corps, September 18, 2019 - CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, JAPAN by Capt George McArthur - The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11 (CPR-11) conducted a series of sequential operations rehearsing naval expeditionary combined-arms maneuver from Wasp Amphibious Ready Group ships to shore in the Philippine and East China Seas and in the vicinity of Okinawa, Japan, August 9-19, 2019.
With support from III Marine Expeditionary Force and the Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group, the 31st MEU and CPR-11 planned, coordinated, and executed the large-scale expeditionary rehearsal to demonstrate the MEU’s flexibility in simultaneous multi-island seizures and projection of combat power.
Using Marine Air-Ground Task Force capabilities integrated across all warfighting domains, the rehearsal included transit to an amphibious operation area, a long-range airfield seizure, an amphibious raid with High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) insert, a mechanized raid, and a long-range vertical assault with total force reconstitution ashore.
Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, completed the simulated long-range airfield seizure from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) via MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced) at Ie Shima Training Facility (ISTF), Okinawa, August 12, after a high-altitude, low-opening airborne insert of the 31st MEU’s Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance.
Follow-on operations at ISTF included a joint medical evacuation scenario with the 353rd SOG, and the establishment of Forward Arming and Refueling Point. Two days later, Echo Company conducted a long-range raid from ISTF into the Central Training Area, Okinawa, simulating a range of 600 nautical miles by in-flight time.
Golf Company, BLT 2/1, launched by combat rubber raiding craft from the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) to seize the beach training area at Kin Blue, Okinawa, August 13. As a supporting effort, Marines aboard assault amphibious vehicles with Fox Company, BLT 2/1, completed a mechanized amphibious raid from the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20) at Camp Schwab, Okinawa. This adjacent “island” provided support to the Marines at Kin Blue that were preparing to provide precision fires.
After the seizure, a HIMARS with Battery Q, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, inserted by a Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) and conducted notional fire missions incorporating target data passed from an overhead F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft, demonstrating the capability for long-range precision fire support during expeditionary operations. This was the first time that a HIMARS insert by LCU has ever been completed in the Indo-Pacific region after a simulated amphibious raid, rehearsing naval expeditionary combined-arms maneuver from amphibious shipping.
During all phases of the exercise, the 31st MEU maintained communications and operational control from ship before moving command and control to the command post at Camp Hansen, according to Col. Robert B. Brodie, 31st MEU commanding officer.
"The 31st MEU is a continuously evolving combat force prepared for crisis and, ultimately, high-end conflict. Our mission rehearsals apply innovation, flexibility, and tailor-made lethal forces designed to 'fight and win' across a multi-domain battlefield," said Brodie. "Agility and speed combined with advanced technology and the indomitable fighting spirit of the 31st MEU Marines and Sailors strikes fear within adversaries and imbues confidence with partners."