CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan --
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit,” said Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher credited with laying much of the groundwork for Western philosophy.
U.S. Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit put Aristotle’s theory to the test during Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise 16-1 on Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 7-16, in preparation for their upcoming deployment.
For the first time since its new deployment cycle began in November, the elements of the MEU worked together to its full extent as the Marine Corps’ smallest kind of the Marine Air Ground Task Force to conduct scenario-based training. The training covers many of the operations the MEU must be capable of executing while deployed. They are also the same training scenarios the MEU will be evaluated on as part of its Certification Exercise, a training event which certifies the 31st MEU on its ability to respond to specific crisis situations in an effective manner.
“MEUEX offers an opportunity to bring the sub-components of the MEU together, forming more habitual relationships, which allows Marines to plan, execute and deploy together more efficiently,” said Maj. Michael Williamson, a Chicago native and the assistant operations officer with the 31st MEU.
During the exercise, Marines responded to various situations including high intensity missions such as boat raids, air assaults and reconnaissance missions, to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and other contingency operations.
“This training is critical,” said Col. Romin Dasmalchi the commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “If you do not take opportunities like this to pull everyone together as one team and practice these mission-essential tasks, you accept too much risk prior to embarkation. As soon as Marines get on those ships, they have to do these exercises all over again.”
Each deployment, the components of the MEU rotate out, creating an entirely new MAGTF. The new aviation combat, ground combat and logistic combat element use MEUEX to practice operating together for the first time, helping them to build a stronger working relationship for when they deploy and may have to conduct the same missions in a real-world scenario.
“The exercise developed a preliminary scenario for the amphibious task force, setting conditions for more advance missions and allowing Marines to execute future missions more proficiently,” said Williamson.
This iteration of MEUEX completed, the Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU will continue using the time remaining before their deployment to ensure they are as ready as possible, according to Dasmalchi.
“The Marines are prepared,” said Dasmalchi. “But, practice makes perfect. We will continue to train and improve ourselves until we are 100 percent out of time – that is the nature of being a Marine.”