ABOARD USS ESSEX --
During exercise Keen Sword 2011, Marines with 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, focused on learning more about their amphibious background.
“The 4th Marines regimental headquarters staff came on board with the Japanese Navy and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Command Element for a planning exercise, to organize a mock regimental size amphibious operation in Guam, in support of exercise Keen Sword 2011,” said Capt. Stanford Shaw, Headquarters Company commanding officer with 4th Marine Regiment.
Shaw added, “With the majority of the Marines back on Okinawa, we saw this as an opportunity to allow some of our younger Marines to spend some time on ship, which also coincides with Gen. Amos’ intent on returning to our amphibious roots.”
During the last eight years, Marine Corps leaders have said operations in South-West Asia have been the Corp’s main focus. Marines have been otherwise engaged and separated from their naval brothers supporting Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, but recent disaster relief in Pakistan and the Philippines has, once again, demonstrated the need for rapid response from the sea.
Throughout exercise Keen Sword, newly embarked Marines were given a tour of the different parts of the ship. 31st MEU pilots also explained the maintenance cycle of aircraft and how the Aviation Combat Element directly supports the Battalion Landing Team. The training helped to offer Marines a better understanding of a MEU and its theater capabilities.
Lance Cpl. Ethan Cadore, administrative specialist with 4th Marines said, “It is a different experience, being on ship. It definitely takes some getting used to, but I wouldn’t mind going on a few patrols with the MEU.”