Behind scenes at Ssang Yong 16: Combat Logistics Battalion 31
By 1st Lt. Karoline Foote, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
USS BONHOMME RICHARD --
Behind every operation a military unit conducts, there is a group of people that work behind the scenes to make everything happen. That group makes sure there are vehicles for transportation; water and food for the troops; medical treatment if needed; and ammunition for the operation. In the case of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, that group of people is Combat Logistics Battalion 31.
The Marines and sailors of CLB 31 deployed to the Republic of Korea as the logistics component of 31st MEU in support of exercise Ssang Yong 16. Ssang Yong is a biennial combined amphibious exercise conducted by forward-deployed U.S. forces with the Republic of Korea Navy and Marine Corps, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Army forces in order to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across a wide range of military operations - from disaster relief to complex expeditionary operations. CLB 31 provided logistics, security, medical and range support to the Marines of 31st MEU, allowing them to conduct multiple complex training scenarios over the course of the MEU’s participation in Ssang Yong.
The military police officers of CLB 31’s MP detachment even pulled double duty. In addition to providing force protection to the MEU Marines ashore at Camp Mujuk in Pohang, South Korea, the MPs augmented the Camp Mujuk provost marshal’s office in support of exercise Key Resolve, an annual command post exercise.
According to Lance Cpl. Kenneth Rodriguez, a fireteam leader in the MP Detachment, the MPs ran multiple entry control points, checked vehicles and personnel coming through the gate and helped maintain security on the camp hand-in-hand with the Camp Mujuk PMO.
“We overlook everything from manning the front gate to manning ECPs, making sure that everybody stays safe and everybody who is authorized to be in certain areas are in those areas,” explained Rodriguez. We are making sure they have the proper clearance.”
In addition to the military police keeping the 31st MEU Marines and sailors safe, CLB set up a shock trauma platoon. The STP is a just-in-case force used to support any operation by standing by with medical care in the event of any injuries.
“The shock trauma platoon is a ‘Role 2’ capability, meaning we have a level of medical care that is just below a major hospital with surgery,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Sheep, the officer in-charge of the STP. “Our domain is the golden hour, meaning the hour after the initial injury. That is when most preventable deaths happen and that is the reason we are there to mitigate that golden hour so people can survive and either get back into the fight or to go on to a greater level of care.”
Ssang Yong had no major casualties, and minor casualties that did occur were able to be treated quickly and effectively, according to Sheep. The MEU was able to conduct all their ranges safely due in part to the presence of CLB 31’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.
“CLB’s EOD section conducted surface clearance operations for conventional and unexploded ordnance before the ranges for Ssang Yong began,” said Chief Warrant Officer Steven Tamm, the MEU’s EOD officer. “After the ranges began we were on standby to remove any lodged projectiles from the weapon systems fired on the ranges, from the 40mm grenades all the way to the M777 howitzers.”
CLB 31 not only supported Ssang Yong with security, the STP and EOD but also with the small common necessities that everyone is used to. The CLB made sure all the Marines and sailors participating had fuel, food, water and bathrooms while they were out in the field.
“CLB’s main role was to support the warfighters during Ssang Yong,” said Sheep.
“I believe this Ssang Yong went excellently, but I do not believe Ssang Yong could have been completed to the level it was intended without CLB,” said Tamm.
Exercise Ssang Yong 16
USS Bonhomme Richard