WHITE BEACH, OKINAWA, Japan --
More than 1,800 Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked the USS Essex (LHD 2), and USS Germantown (LSD 42), June 28, in preparation for exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 to be held in Australia.
The Marines and Sailors loaded about 90 vehicles and more than 120 containers and pallets of gear onto the ships. This was done within 48 hours to ensure the ships left on schedule.
“The hardest part about the MEU on-load is ensuring that we have the proper gear packed in the appropriate location,” said Capt. Robert Schwaab, the assistant logistics chief for the 31st MEU. “This has to be done so that regardless of what mission or task we are given, we can respond in the best manner possible.”
That capability has proven necessary, as the MEU has participated in five humanitarian aid missions over the last three years, including involvement in Operation Tomodachi after a the recent earthquake and tsunami struck Northeast Japan in March.
During this patrol, the 31st MEU is scheduled to participate in exercise Talisman Sabre 2011.
“The 31st MEU looks forward to the partnership with Australia and their military forces,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, the commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “This exercise increases our readiness and advances regional security in the Pacific. We look forward to validating our combat readiness and interoperability as part of a combined joint task force.”
Marines from the Command Element; Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced) with attached Marine Attack Squadron 214 and Combat Logistics Regiment 31 will participate in the exercise.
Talisman Sabre is a biennial exercise, so this will be the first time most Marines with the MEU will participate in it.
“I’m really looking forward to going to Australia,” said Lance Cpl. Elijah E. Wheeler, a Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st MEU. “This is a once in a lifetime event, and I will gain a lot from experiencing it.”
In addition to being the first time many 31st MEU Marines and Sailors will set foot on Australia, this event will also make history as occurring during the 60th anniversary of the Australia, New Zealand, United States security treaty.
The ANZUS Treaty is a defense agreement which was signed in 1951 by Australia, New Zealand and the United States in an effort to reestablish peace after WWII. It became effective in 1952.
Today, the ANZUS security treaty is the military alliance which binds Australia and New Zealand and, separately, Australia and the United States to cooperate on defense matters in the Pacific Ocean area.
TS11 demonstrates the United States’ and the Australian commitment to their military alliance, and enhances stability and security throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the nation’s force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.