WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, Okinawa, Japan --
Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked on ships of Amphibious Squadron 11 to begin their summer patrol here, June 25.
The patrol will bring the unit back to its amphibious roots through service at sea, while providing opportunities to train alongside allies in the Asia-Pacific region. “This deployment gives us another chance to train alongside other countries, increasing knowledge and cohesiveness among fighting forces,” said Lance Cpl. Aaron A. Mendoza, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist with the 31st MEU and a native of Whittier, Calif. “The experience we get from constantly training alongside different militaries is invaluable.”
The USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), USS Germantown (LSD-42) and USS Denver (LPD-9) will be transporting and training with every piece of the Marine Air Ground Task Force to create a fully-integrated ‘Blue and Green Team.’
Above and below their decks rest MV-22 Ospreys, CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, and AV-8B Harriers of the MEU’s Aviation Combat Element; Amphibious Assault Vehicles and M-777A2 Howitzers of the Ground Combat Element; M23 7-ton trucks and MK48 Logistics Vehicle Systems of the Logistics Combat Element; and many more transportation and weapon systems that comprise the 31st MEU.
Every aspect of the small MAGTF will be trained and tested during the patrol, using the ample and unique training areas that the region provides.
“Training opportunities while embarked with the Navy demonstrate the unique capabilities that the 31st MEU and the Amphibious Ready Group provide to a combatant commander, as well as our coalition partners,” said Maj. John G. Lehane, the operations officer for the 31st MEU and a native of West Hempstead, N.Y.
The three ships house more than 2,000 Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU’s Command Element; Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines; Combat Logistics Battalion-31; and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced).
The flexible unit serves as a ready force at sea throughout the patrol, contributing to theater security cooperation.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.