USS ESSEX, At sea --
Fighting the weather and ever changing schedules, the Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit successfully completed the Certification Exercise, March 17.
The 31st MEU conducted a small boat raid, noncombatant evacuation operation, humanitarian aid and disaster relief operation, helicopter raid, a vessel visit, board, search and seizure, and a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, each with its own unique challenges the Marines had to overcome.
During CERTEX, the Marines got a chance to fine-tune their skills as they overcame the obstacles which gave each of the exercises a realistic twist. Upon completion, the 31st MEU is certified to be fully capable of responding to any scenario that may arise during its tour of the Asia-Pacific region.
“Our Navy and Marine Corps team executed all the mission sets that were possible, and we are glad to receive the recommendation for a mission-capable stamp of approval,” said Col. Andrew R. MacMannis, the commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “The MEU has also learned many valuable lessons that will help us as we move forward and continue our deployment.”
During CERTEX, the 31st MEU not only got the mission-capable thumbs up, but Marines and Sailors also gained valuable experience that would be utilized if an actual response was directed.
“After completing this training, I feel myself and the other Marines with the 31st MEU are better prepared to handle any situation that may arise while we are out here,” said Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Blakley, a field wireman with Headquarters and Service Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “It was good for us to be able to practice the things we could end up doing out here, that way we don’t make any mistakes when it really matters.”
The Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU are now preparing for their upcoming deployment to the Asia-Pacific region, and are standing by to conduct any mission they are called upon to do.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.