JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations are successful only if the environment is safe enough to sustain them. Marines may be called to parts of the globe where they must conduct humanitarian operations in one area, engage the enemy in the next and conduct peace keeping operations right after. Marine Corps General Charles Krulak called it the “Three Block War”, and the Marines of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, like all ground combat units serving with a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, are trained in it.
Supporting their 1st Marine Logistics Group counterparts as part of Special Marine Air Ground Task Force Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 1st LAR showcased their territorial defense capabilities on their mission to support the U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, during the ASEAN press conference aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD-23) in Hawaii, April 1-4, 2014.
Ten Marines with 1st LAR set up a static display of Light Armored Vehicles and a collection of their weaponry including the Infantry Automatic Rifle, the Barret .50 caliber sniper rifle and the M16A4 service rifle, to showcase to delegates and media personnel from several Southeast Asian nations.
During the static display, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Medical Battalion and 1st Maintenance Battalion, 1st MLG, also highlighted the Navy-Marine Corps team’s humanitarian aid and disaster relief capabilities, and the MAGTF’s role as a combined expeditionary force in readiness, ready to assist in catastrophes at any time.
“Whether it be convoy security, security within a village or guarding supplies, we can provide that safety and stability, especially when the area is volatile,” said Sgt. Kyle Dewey, an LAV crewman with 1st LAR, 1st Marine Division.
An LAV typically has a crew of seven Marines including, three Marines operating the vehicle and four functioning as scouts.
“The vehicle provides a deterrent to threats with its 25mm bushmaster chain gun,” said Dewey, of San Diego. “It’s pretty intimidating and it’s usually enough to deter threats from interrupting our humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.”
The scouts, infantry riflemen responsible for feeding information and providing security to the vehicle’s crew and the command unit, also play a vital role in the security of the mission.
“We provide internal organic security and support for the vehicles and the mission.” said Sgt. Rolando Morales, company chief scout with Alpha Company, 1st LAR, 1st Marine Division. “As scouts, our overall mission is to provide reconnaissance, security, screening and guard the MAGTF and conducting humanitarian operations.”
1st LAR can also provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief capabilities in the form of its own, modified logistics and communications LAVs.
“We’re really flexible,” said Morales, of Chicago, Ill. “Our LAVs are one of the fastest vehicles within the MAGTF, and different variants can transport materials, supplies, resources and remove obstacles.”
Ultimately, 1st LAR’s mission is similar to the MLG Marines they work with: They are there to win hearts and minds. With coverage from the international media and a wide array of delegates from Southeast Asia, the Marines of 1st LAR were happy for the opportunity to get their message across. After the static display, 1st LAR, along with elements of 1st MLG, will be training at-sea and conducting quality and maintenance checks on their return to Camp Pendleton, Calif., starting April 7, 2014.
“This operation gave us a chance to demonstrate our capabilities to foreign countries that don’t necessarily see the humanitarian side of the Marine Corps,” said Dewey. “We’re not only there to fight wars. I think it opened their eyes to what we can do for them and that wherever there’s a crisis, we can help.”