KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, Japan (July 12, 2010) --
Marines assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, based out of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., arrived in Okinawa July 11 to be deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The 1/7 Marines are arriving as the new battalion landing team, and are expected to remain with the 31st MEU during the MEU’s fall patrol of the Asia-Pacific reigon.
“We are bringing about 1,200 Marines and Sailors out here, as well as artillery, AAVs (Amphibious Assault Vehicles), and LAVs (Light Armored Vehicles) - lots of Marines and equipment that are ready to go,” said Lt. Col. Todd Simmons, Commanding Officer, BLT 1/7.
The Marines of 1/7, while with the 31st MEU, are expected to participate in Amphibious Landing Exercise 2011 in the Republic of the Philippines and the Korean Incremental Training Program 2011 in the Republic of Korea. They will also be prepared, with the rest of the MEU, to respond to any humanitarian or contingency crises that may arise.
“Our goal is to do whatever we can to contribute to the 31st MEU’s and III MEF’s success,” said Simmons. “We want to get out on ship and get back to our amphibious roots to allow us to be that force in readiness from the sea.”
The Marine Corps is the Nation’s sea-based crisis response force, and the 31st MEU and newly arrived 1/7 Marines represent power projection in the Western Pacific.
In the past 20 years, U.S. amphibious forces have responded to crises and contingencies more than 120 times, such as Afghanistan in 2001, Beirut in 2006 and Haiti in 2010. This rate is more than twice that of the Cold War period, according to Marine Corps Operating Concepts 2010.
The 31st MEU responded to three humanitarian crises in 2009 alone, including Taiwan, the Republic of Indonesia, and the Republic of the Philippines.
1/7 is replacing 2/7, whose Marines are now headed back home to Calif., after completing a successful spring deployment with the 31st MEU.
The deployment of 1/7 to Okinawa, Japan is part of the Marine Corps’ Unit Deployment Program, which was established by the Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1977 to provide for the deployment of units to the Western Pacific for periods of approximately six months.
The newly arrived battalion of Marines will assume its role with the 31st MEU quickly, as there is plenty of training to do.
“We are pretty used to being hot, it was about 110 when we left 29 Palms, but we have to get used to the humidity,” said Simmons. “We’ll get acclimatized over the next few weeks and be ready to go.”
Additional photos of BLT 1/7’s arrival in Okinawa can be viewed on the 31st MEU Facebook site at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Okinawa-Japan/31st-Marine-Expeditionary-Unit/115253045176016.