Photo Information

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), scan role-players posing as non-combatant evacuees for unauthorized items during simulated non-combatant evacuation operation at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, July 23, 2020.

Photo by Sgt. Audrey Rampton

Crisis Response: CLB-31, 31st MEU prepare NCO's to lead the way

21 Aug 2020 | Sgt. Audrey Rampton 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

PHILIPPINE SEA – Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), attend a class about the CLB’s roll in non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO) and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) aboard USS New Orleans (LPD 18), Aug. 21, 2020.

The non-commissioned officers (NCO) in attendance learned the key components of NEO and HADR missions, as well as how the command uses the rapid response planning process to launch teams for quick action.

“A HADR, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, is conducting rapid relief efforts or assistance to a host nation that has requested aid from the department of state, until the nation can stabilize or until other organizations can arrive to provide long-term aid,” said 1st Lt. Chelsey Platt, the engineer platoon commander for CLB-31, 31st MEU.

As first responders, the ships deliver supplies, purify water, and clear debris to provide immediate relief to the affected area. The MEU brings support that acts as a tourniquet, providing initial aid before other government agency’s (OGA) or non-government organizations (NGO) arrives to support the area long term.

Platt continues, “A NEO, non-combatant evacuation operation, is taking American citizens in the region or personnel from the embassy and transporting them safely to ship.”

NEOs are utilized as a final transportation to remove American citizens and embassy staff from a rapidly destabilizing area who have no other means of evacuating. Marines may find themselves stepping out of their specialty during a NEO; whether to provide internal security, ensure timely transportation, work with the NEO tracking system, or give simple first aid. NCOs are responsible for overseeing each station and ensuring the Marines are aware of their responsibilities.

“These missions can be conducted from ship in both hasty and deliberate packages. The hasty package is more efficient from ship, as we only require aircraft or landing craft to maneuver personnel, as opposed to responding from land or from the States where it takes longer to respond,” Platt said.

The MEU provides a rapid response team ready to deploy from ship to shore using air and surface craft. Each level of leadership plays a role in preparing, packing, and maneuvering the equipment, vehicles and manpower that make up the team. NCO’s are a vital link between the planners, who delegate assignments and ask questions about capabilities, and the movers, whom they then task with their specific piece of the mission.

“It is important for the non-commissioned officers to know about these missions because they are responsible for providing the capabilities and information, as well as preparing and employing the equipment and ensuring everything is loaded on the transportation,” Platt said.

NCOs are tasked with informing the responsible officer about the capabilities of their Marines and equipment. After the class, the NCOs had a new understanding, not only of what their Marines need to be trained to do, but how to step up and execute the mission. Knowing is half the battle; now is the time to prepare for real-world execution. 

New Orleans, part of the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), 31st MEU team, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The America ARG, 31st MEU team remains the premier crisis response force in the region despite the unique challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.