CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan --
Maintain good order amidst chaos, search civilians to ensure no weapons are present, then process and separate crowds into specific groups to get people out of a dangerous situation.
These are some of the tasks that must be completed during a noncombatant evacuation operation.
To ensure the new Battalion Landing Team is fully prepared to support the wide ranging capabilities of the 31st MEU, Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, trained Marines of BLT 1st Battalion 4th Marines, 31st MEU during a simulated noncombatant evacuation operation.
With Marines acting as evacuees, CLB Marines instructed the BLT on how to properly search, process and protect any evacuees they would handle during an actual NEO.
“They are all learning pretty fast,” said Cpl. Eric Page, a squad leader with CLB 31, 31st MEU. “They seem to understand the basic concept of a NEO and the steps we take to process the evacuees.”
Working hand-in-hand, the experienced CLB Marines provided the BLT valuable insight into the successful execution of a critical mission.
“It’s important for the BLT to receive this training because of the multitude of missions we need to be able to accomplish while we’re serving on the MEU,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Wallace, the Headquarters platoon commander with Lima Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, BLT 1/4, and native of Mount Juliet, Tenn.
Typically, these operations are a combined effort of the two units, and the importance of the training is not lost on the Marines.
“This training helps further integrate us,” said Page. “That helps because we would work together during an actual operation, this ensures we are all on the same page and have a clear understanding of how the mission must be conducted.”
Page went on to say that it is important to maintain these skills because evacuations have been conducted in the Pacific, most recently after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged Northern Japan.
Although the 31st MEU was not called upon to conduct a NEO then, it must maintain the skills so it is always capable of quickly and efficiently conducting one.
The Marines with the 31st MEU are currently preparing for their upcoming deployment to the Asia-Pacific region.
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit remains America’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region, and is the only continually forward-deployed MEU.