CHINHAE PORT, Republic of Korea -- A Maritime Prepositioning Force is one of many facets of the Marine Corps amphibious capabilities. It provides rapid and expeditionary deployment of personnel and equipment, which allows III Marine Expeditionary Force to maintain operations and meet mission goals in the Asia-Pacific Region.
On June 13, the United States Naval Ship 2nd Lt. John Bobo arrived in Chinhae Port, Republic of Korea, in support of multiple exercises across the Korean Peninsula. This is when Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force and Task Force 2/24, which is a reserve infantry battalion from Chicago, Illinois, got to work pulling various Marine Corps assets off the ship in an effective and well thought out manner.
“It is very important not only identifying all the gear that is coming off, but also trying to separate and prioritize what needs to come off first,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Fernando Huerta, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Offload Liaison Team officer-in-charge. “In order to do (an offload) we need to be able to have everything identified. Our guys from the MOLT along with the (offload prepositioning party,) make sure everything works and anything that is broken is fixed in order to make the offload successful.”
The MPF offload will support three Korean Military Exchange Programs: KMEP 15-9, which will focus on increasing engineer capabilities of 9th Engineer Support Battalion and Republic of Korea Marine engineers, KMEP 15-5, which will be 7th Communication Battalion bilaterally training with ROK Marines, and KMEP 15-8, also called Peninsula Express, which will be Task Force 2/24 cross training with ROK Marines on infantry tactics.
This will mark the first time a Marine Corps reserve unit will deploy to the Korean Peninsula to participate in a KMEP exercise.
Marines, active duty or reserve, are expected to perform at their best at any time in any clime and place. This exercise provides the opportunity for Task Force 2/24 to demonstrate they are up for the challenge.
“It is important for (reserve units) to come out here and train, not only to demonstrate that reserve Marines are ready for any mission at any time, but also to strengthen the partnership with the ROK Marines,” said Capt. Kyle Wehrenberg, a logistics officer with 2nd Battalion, 24 Marine Regiment.
The combination of active and reserve Marines were able to flex their job skills while learning from new experiences.
“The training provided during this offload has been very beneficial throughout every (job set),” said Sgt. Brian Ferman, an embark specialist with Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF. “Being able to train and work with a Marine Corps Reserve unit has been a great experience as well.”
III MEF is continuously training and partnering with ally nations throughout the year, and the MPF ships provide the capability to accomplish and support multiple missions.
“As the nation’s force in readiness, the Marine Corps relies heavily upon MPF operations to quickly project power around the globe in order to effectively respond to any contingency,” said Maj. Robert Fairley , the Landing Force Support Party officer-in-charge. “The Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron is designed to carry enough supplies and equipment to support a Marine Expeditionary Brigade for 30 days.”
This exercise provides an opportunity for Marines to become proficient in MPF missions, as well as for the reserve Marines to exercise their skill set in an unfamiliar environment.
“For many of my guys this will be the first time they’ve gone outside of (America),” said Wehrenberg, from Naiperville, Illinois. “They get to go out here, do their job and liaison with another professional organization…there is a lot to look forward to.”
MPF operations on the Korean Peninsula are beneficial to the continuous training that enhances the Marine Corps expeditionary capabilities, readying them for anything to come.
“It remains uncertain when and where the next contingency will take place within the pacific,” said Fairley, from Cumberland, Maryland. "The Marine Corps retains the flexibility to successfully offload these ships using available ports, or surface connectors when sufficient ports are unavailable. If called upon, the employment of these MPF assets will enable the rapid deployment of a fully capable MAGTF anywhere in the world.”