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3rd Marine Division sharpens the spear in 2003

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 1/8/2004

Story by Cpl. Ryan D. Libbert

CAMP COURTNEY- -- More than 9,000 Marines and Sailors from 3rd Marine Division spent 2003 at their post in the Asia-Pacific region deterring foreign threats to the United States while most of Americas attention was focused on Operation Iraqi Freedom and its aftermath.

During the Stop Loss/Stop Move policy that began Jan. 2003, the Division kept a stable force on Okinawa that participated in numerous training exercises as well as real world contingencies, according to Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Weber, commanding general, 3rd MarDiv.

It's been a tough year for Marines and Sailors in this division, Weber said. Some units were extended here up to 12 months undergoing the stop loss/stop move policy as well as missing out on the big war. Still, what they do here is very critical to this part of the world. Our presence here is a great deterrent to a lot of the shenanigans and bad things that could occur at the hands of global terrorists and tyrannical regimes.

As part of III Marine Expeditionary Forceps ground combat element, 3rd MarDiv maintains a forward presence in Japan and Asia to support the United States Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and our other alliance relationships.

The division conducted, in conjunction with forward presence and engagement, operations and training throughout the region in support of our National Security Strategy. Training opportunities included Exercises Balikatan, Cobra Gold, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, and the Korean Incremental Training Program.

This was a very busy year, full of deployments, Weber stated. Our regular exercises and engagements took us to places like Russia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Mongolia, Australia, mainland Japan, and the Korean Peninsula. We were also heavily involved with Joint Task Force 555 at the start of the year, which supported the Global War on Terrorism. Overall I'd say the highlight of this past year has been constant deployments all over the Pacific theater as well as deployments to the Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Weber also stated that even though the spotlight was focused on Southwest Asia in 2003, Marines and Sailors within 3rd MarDiv still served an important role on and around Okinawa.

The Marines and Sailors who are part of the division are very important, Weber concluded. We may not get the fanfare and publicity as much as other units operating in other parts of the world, but there is a purpose for us being here, and being ready, and it's very important to understand that.

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