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Lance Cpl. Michael Ramirez, a motor transport mechanic with Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, tightens the bolts on a vehicle engine during a maintenance stand-down at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, May 9, 2018. During the stand-down, vehicle maintenance Marines inspected, serviced and maintained all of the vehicles and equipment the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked during Spring Patrol 2018. The 31st MEU, including CLB-31, the Logistics Combat Element for the MEU, returned to Okinawa, April 21, after a regularly scheduled patrol of the Indo-Pacific region. The 31st MEU, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward deployed MEU, provides a flexible force ready to perform a wide-range of military operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matt Navarra/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Navarra

31st MEU Marines maintain equipment and readiness

20 May 2018 | Lance Cpl. Matthew Navarra 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit completed full preventative and regular maintenance on equipment embarked during Spring Patrol 2018 at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, May 11, 2018.

 The 31st MEU, including Combat Logistics Battalion 31 and Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, returned to Okinawa April 21 after a roughly five-week patrol of the Indo-Pacific region aboard the ships of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group.

 The maintenance Marines conducted the ‘stand-down’ to ensure the 31st MEU’s vehicles and equipment remain mission ready as BLT 2/5 becomes the Ground Combat Element for the MEU.

 During deployments, Marines with the 31st MEU embark aboard U.S. Navy vessels with a full complement of vehicles, weapons, gear and personal items to remain “Forward, Flexible and Ready.” As a consequence, the embarked vehicles operate on a near continuous basis. The maintenance stand-down provides an opportunity to reset and refresh the vehicles after returning to Okinawa, according to Sgt. Kc Reum, a motor vehicle operator with BLT 2/5.

“The maintenance stand-down is an opportunity for all of the Marines to take a step back and fine tune the equipment for issues,” said Reum. “It takes time to get back to having all of the equipment mission ready, but that’s why we have these stand-downs.”

The stand-down will help ensure that the Marines of BLT 2/5 are ready to operate as soon as they arrive. Having equipment constantly ready to deploy is one of the many contributing factors in why the 31st MEU is the premiere crisis response force in the Indo-Pacific region.

“As a part of the 31st MEU, we need our trucks to be ready to go at any moment,” said Reum. “When BLT 1/1 hands off the vehicles to 2/5, they should be ready to be deployed immediately.”

Overall, preventative maintenance is better for not only equipment, but for the Marines of the 31st MEU. By finding a problem and correcting it while a vehicle is not in operation, motor transport mechanics prevent costly, dangerous malfunctions that take a longer time to fix.

 By taking a break from training exercises, the Marines gain the time necessary to do preventative maintenance. The stand-down provides an experience in not only technical skills, but also shows the importance of staying ahead of a potential problem.

“All Marines in the maintenance field know that preventative maintenance is easier than corrective maintenance,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jacob Notley, a motor transportation maintenance chief with CLB-31. “Not only does preventative maintenance take less time, but it’s also safer.”

The 31st MEU operates in a wide variety of military operations that require equipment that can withstand stress and adverse conditions. By constantly servicing that equipment, Marines are more likely to achieve the mission quickly, efficiently and safely.

“The worst possible scenario is a malfunction in an operating environment like a convoy or patrol,” said Notley. “We lower the risk of injury and damage by taking a couple weeks to check that all of our equipment is fully operational.”

The 31st MEU, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward deployed MEU, provides a flexible force ready to perform a wide range of military operations.

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31st Marine Expeditionary Unit