SHOALWATER BAY TRAINING AREA, QUEENSLAND, Australia --
Behind every combat unit, there is logistic support. For the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, there is Combat Logistics Battalion 31.
CLB 31 has been supporting Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU during ongoing scenario-based operations taking place as part of exercise Talisman Sabre 2011.
“Our mission is to support the BLT with logistics,” Maj. Calvin M. Gadsden, the executive officer of CLB 31, 31st MEU. “Right now we are providing them specifically with fuel, water, and chow. We are also providing a maintenance capability for the vehicles that break down, as well as medical care.”
Throughout CLB 31’s participation in the field exercise, Marines and Sailors have gotten a chance to learn a different aspect of their jobs than would in garrison.
“My Marines learned a great deal about conducting operations in an austere environment,” said Gadsden. “For many of the Marines, they are used to operating out of a base camp or a built-up environment. In this particular exercise we had to support the operations and be very mobile so we did not use a lot of things that we would normally use.”
Gadsden went on to say they also had to provide their own security so they got a chance to utilize some of the basic skills that every Marine learns.
“I had to create a security detail for my Marines,” he said. “They had an opportunity to man defensive positions and do some patrols which are a great opportunities for them.”
The ability to utilize those basic skills, and advance their knowledge within their job, helps prepare the Marines for a deployment into a combat zone.
“It helps them because we have seen that we can face a myriad of tasks and missions,” said Gadsden. “My Marines have had an opportunity to participate in an environment with a vast array of requirements, which is very realistic to what they may encounter in Afghanistan.”
In addition to Marines building on their skills, Navy corpsmen attached to the unit have utilized their skills in the scenario-based operation as well.
“We’re here to support CLB 31 and the BLT with medical capabilities,” said HM1 Anthony D. Diaz, a corpsman with CLB 31. “During the beach landing we had simulated casualties that we treated, and when we moved forward to Sam Hill we continued to provide these Marines with that first line of medical coverage.”
Overall, the Marines and Sailors expressed they were enjoying their time spent in Australia, learning with the Australians and hope to be able to participate in the joint exercise again.
TS11 is the largest joint military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force. Around 14,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian personnel will participate. TS11 provides an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined and joint environment that will increase both countries’ bilateral war-fighting capabilities to respond to crisis and to provide humanitarian assistance.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.