USS ESSEX, At sea --
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit began its certification exercise Oct. 6, and upon completion will officially certify that the MEU is ready for operations in the Asia-Pacific area of operations.
CERTEX ensures that the 31st MEU is ready and able to conduct a wide variety of operations ranging from noncombatant evacuation operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, amphibious raids and assaults, theater security operations and humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.
“We run a full mission profile of each mission essential task of the 31st MEU,” said Lt. Col. Brandon D. McGowan, the officer in charge of III Marine Expeditionary Force Special Operations Training Group. “Our evaluators all have their areas of expertise. We look at everything from the individual tasks to group tasks and provide a collective assessment.”
The exercise, lasting about two weeks, is an important evaluation of the 31st MEU’s capabilities, not only of the participating units, but also of the individual Marines as well.
“It is an exercise that measures unit and individual skills and standards that the Marines have been to do in preparation for the MEU deployment,” said Capt. Richard P. McKenzie. “Its value is more than a check in the box. It’s also a mental milestone that validates the hard work, accomplishment and effort put into our training.”
As CERTEX continues, it not only validates the training for the Marines involved, it builds upon the Navy and Marine Corps relationship.
“We expect that during CERTEX we put the finishing touches on our ability to be brilliant in the basics,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, the commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “There is always room for improvement and room to tighten up our integration within the MEU and as a blue-green team. Without full integration we only make responding to calls more difficult. We expect by the end of CERTEX that we will be one team.”
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.