1st Lt. Eric Bohnenkamp and Staff Sgt. Shaehmus Sawyer --
As Marines and sailors provide earthquake relief in Türkiye, 1,200 II Marine Expeditionary Force Marines and sailors simultaneously trained in Marine Expeditionary Force Exercise 23, on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 8-17, 2023.
“The planning for this exercise began about six weeks ago,” said Maj. Scott Flurry, a future operations planner with II MEF. “This exercise simulates, tests the abilities and trains Marines and sailors to successfully execute humanitarian efforts.”
MEFEX is an exercise that develops command and control capabilities and warfighting functions in preparation for crisis across the spectrum of conflict. In the scenario, MEF staff developed the ability to coordinate with non-governmental organizations, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other agencies in response to a foreign humanitarian crisis.
“II MEF would be seen operating in a similar capacity during any global crisis response,” said Col. Nicholas Davis, Director of II Marine Expeditionary Force Training and a MEFEX planner.
“Whether forward deployed or in garrison, we are here to respond to crises as needed.” Col. Nicholas Davis, Director of II Marine Expeditionary Force Training
The exercise in foreign humanitarian assistance comes as forces from II MEF conduct real-world assistance to the Government and people of Türkiye after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Feb. 6, 2023.
Marines and sailors from II Marine Expeditionary Force, led by Col. Ryan Hoyle, commanding officer of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, arrived in Naples, Italy as the third iteration of II MEF’s support to Task Force 61, Naval Amphibious Force Europe, Jan. 23, 2023. Following the earthquake, Task Force personnel quickly responded by deploying to Türkiye, conducting site surveys and serving as an advance team to coordinate other Department of Defense efforts.
II MEF then deployed Commanding General of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Brig. Gen. Andrew Priddy, to command TF-61 along with additional 2d MEB Marines and sailors. 2d MEB and TF-61 are now the crisis response force responsible for command and control of all U.S. military humanitarian and earthquake efforts from Incirlik Air Base, Türkiye.
Back on Camp Lejeune, II MEF Marines continued a command post exercise aided by MAGTF Staff Training Program who simulated a joint task force from Quantico, Va.
Photo by Cpl. Nathan Mitchell
U.S. Marine Capt. Emma Thompson, Research and Assessments Officer, with II Marine Expeditionary Force conducts a training press conference with Communication Strategy and Operations Marines during Marine Expeditionary Force Exercise-23, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 16, 2023. MEFEX is an exercise that develops command and control capabilities and warfighting functions of the MEF staff as an operational command in preparation for crisis across the spectrum of conflict. In the scenario, MEF staff developed the ability to coordinate with non-governmental organizations, U. S. Agency for International Development, and other agencies in response to a foreign humanitarian crisis.
“Role players come from all over the MEF and the east coast of the Marine Corps,” Davis said, “And every day, key leaders and staff have touch points to ensure the effectiveness of the training and how to move forward in future exercises.”
Throughout this exercise, II MEF demonstrated the ability to command and control, coordinate across inter-agency organizations, and simulate military operations across the competition continuum. This included aircraft to ground movements, tactical recoveries, raids, humanitarian aid, and ground operations.
This exercise incorporated all warfighting functions – command and control, fires, force protection, information, intelligence, logistics and maneuver.
For example, 4th Civil Affairs Group, Force Headquarters, Marine Corps Forces Reserve, led the inter-agency coordination and integrated civil affairs expertise into all of the working groups alongside II MEF staff members.
MEFEX was also a key step in preparation for II MEF Joint Task Force qualification in support of the service-wide initiative: Force Design 2030. The culminating exercise to certify II MEF as a JTF, JTF Exercise-23, is schedule later this year in September.
II MEF is representative of the largest and most powerfully arrayed Marine Air-Ground Task Force; an expeditionary force in readiness with an emphasis on crisis response.
“Whether forward deployed or in garrison, we are here to respond to crises as needed,” Col. Davis said.