3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3rd MEB)
Alert Contingency Marine Air Ground Task Force (ACM)
The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3rd MEB) provides a scalable, standing, joint capable, forward deployed headquarters oriented to the US Pacific Command area of operation that is capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow on forces, and theater security cooperation in order to strengthen alliance relationships and support III MEF operational requirements.
3rd MEB maintains a forward presence in the Pacific Theater to support contingencies and alliance relationships. 3rd MEB also conducts combined operations and training throughout the region in support of United States national security strategy. While many of the training exercises that the MEB conducts have a bilateral military piece, they also provide medical support and engineering capabilities to the host nation. These services allow the MEB to better hone its wide skill set while strengthening their relationships wherever they go.
The Marine Expeditionary Brigade concept has been around since the 1950s. With service in the Korean War, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the robust and scalable command and control capability and combat effectiveness of the MEB is unquestioned. Eliminated Marine Corps-wide in the early 1990s, a MEB was activated within each Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) as of 1 January 2000. 3rd MEB was reactivated as part of III MEF.
3rd MEB had previously been part of III MEF. It had deployed to Vietnam as part of the first substantial commitments of US ground combat forces in 1965. The 9th MEB, which had deployed to Vietnam on 8 March 1965, was followed on 7 May 1965 by the landing of the 3rd MEB at Chu Lai, some 55 miles south of Da Nang. Both brigades were subsequently absorbed into the III Marine Expeditionary Force, which quickly had its name changed to the III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) because it was presumed that the South Vietnamese had unhappy memories of the French Expeditionary Corps.
After the reactivation of the MEBs in 2000, the 3rd MEB assumed its place as part of III MEF, oriented towards missions in the Pacific Command area of responsibility. III MEF's 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was said to be the one to "kicks down the door" so the 3rd MEB could move deep into the enemy territory.
Nearly 150 Marines of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade departed the mild climate of Okinawa, Japan for the frigid temperatures of northern Japan during exercise Yama Sakura 43 in 2002. The Marines flew there to join the US Army's I Corps and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force's Northern Army for the 2-week annual exercise. Yama Sakura was an annual bilateral Command Post Exercise sponsored by US Army, Japan and the Japan Ground Staff Office. Its purpose was to improve US/Japan interoperability through computer-generated scenarios, which facilitated staff interaction. The Marines participated primarily as the Non-combatant Evacuation Operations Cell.
After having been inactivated again, the 3rd MEB was reactivated on 13 December 2011, as part of a shift in focus of the part of the US military to the US Pacific Command area of responsibility. The permanent command element was authorized 95 dedicated personnel. In the 2012 edition of the III MEF Commanding General's Guidance, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade was said to be III MEF's "first out the door" response to a contingency. Priority focus for contingency planning was placed on the scenario of a major earthquake in Nepal.
On 10 January 2012, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade resumed its role as the command element for the Asia-Pacific region's Alert Contingency Marine Air-Ground Task Force (ACM). As the command element for the ACM, 3rd MEB was prepared to respond within 24 hours to crises throughout the region. In the event of a contingency, 3rd MEB would mitigate foreign or domestic crises, protect US citizens and territories, or counter threats to US national interests as needed. The 3rd MEB would also conduct realistic ACM drills, to include practicing packing and staging equipment and gear and flying the first echelon of personnel, who would deploy in a contingency operation, out of Okinawa and back. 3rd MEB would train in a Maritime Prepositioning Force Planners Course and a Joint Humanitarian Operations Course during early 2013. Since the last assumption of the command element for the ACM, the 3rd MEB participated in the command and control exercise Yama Sakura with regional allies and Typhoon Pablo Relief in the Philippines.
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