CORONADO, Calif. – Marines from 1st Marine Expeditionary Force participated in a Marine Prepositioning Force offload exercise at Coronado, Calif., June 13, 2013. The purpose of the exercise was to give both the Navy and Marine Corps the ability to learn firsthand all the procedures involved in an offload operation and readying a ship full of cargo to resupply ground forces.
“Many Marines are not familiar with MPF operations,” said Col. Bruce Pitman, the Arrival and Assembly Operations Group officer-in-charge with 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. “It’s important to reinvigorate expeditionary roots and get the Marines and sailors familiar with these operations.”
During an MPF operation, equipment capable of supporting a regimental-sized mechanized Marine Air-Ground Task Force is unloaded, logged, inspected and repaired to ensure all gear is ready for future missions.
Due to the complexity of the operation, the Beach Operations Group, which is comparable to a military command operations center, is vital to a successful operation.
“This is where we are running our numbers from and communicating to other elements,” said 2nd Lt. Diana Stabers, BOG officer-in-charge with Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17 and a native of Guilford, Conn. “The mission here is to be quick and accurate when assets role off the ship. Information we gather needs to get to the landing force support party fast because if we are not fast, no one else is going to be able to do anything.”
Marines working in the BOG have the responsibility, as the first ones on the scene as soon as the cargo reaches shore, of safely getting a full shipment of cargo and personnel to its intended location. They are especially important during an in-stream offload, in which the cargo is unloaded several miles off the coastline via onboard cranes, landing craft, and causeways and then transported ashore for further missions.
This capability eliminates the need for well-developed port facilities, which vastly opens the Marine Corps’ and Navy’s amphibious capabilities around the world.
“During the in-stream offload, Marines take over once the gear reaches the high-water mark,” said Stabers. “Before that, the Navy works on getting the (equipment) ready for unloading. While on the beach, gear is serialized and tracked before being transported to its next location.”
This exercise was the first time in several years that I MEF conducted an MPF operation in support of Dawn Blitz, a scenario-driven, simulation-supported amphibious exercise designed to train Expeditionary Strike Group 3 and 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
“The MPF portion of the exercise was added in late, but has been an important aspect of our training,” said Pitman. “This has given the Marines and sailors participating valuable hands-on training necessary to maintain such a high level of skill.”