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Marines demonstrate NEO for Japanese soldiers

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 3/8/2004

Story by Cpl. Matthew Barkalow

OJOJIBARA MANEUVER AREA, SENDAI, Japan (March 5, 2004) -- Marines attached to F Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, conducted a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation, Feb. 7 to show the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force how they handle certain high-risk situations.

According to 1st Lt. Gary Cobb, executive officer, F Co, 2/6, the company showed the JGSDF how the Marines would operate in a hostile area.

"The entire company was out there to simulate the evacuation of American civilians from an embassy where the environment had become unstable," said Cobb, a native of Crossville, Al.

According to Cobb, the civilians had to enter after showing proper identification and meeting requirements for entry onto the premises. Then, they would be escorted to the Evacuation Control Center, where they and their backpacks would be searched for weapons or any other unauthorized materials. After they were done checking in to the ECC, they were rushed to a helicopter, which then lifted then out of the dangerous environment.

Cobb said the objective was to give the Japanese an idea of how the Marine Corps handles these types of situations.

"They were interested in how we would handle different aspects at the same time, such as searching evacuees, dealing with rioters and a bomb threat," he said. "The Japanese conduct this kind of training too and we wanted to basically exchange ideas and procedures with them."

Cobb said there are many factors when conducting a NEO exercise, such as host country support, planning for evacuation, how many evacuees there are, and how to get them out.

"I think it went really well considering we were trying to conduct something as complicated as a NEO in such a short period of time for preparation," he said.

He added all the Marines played an active role in carrying out the demonstration.

"First and third platoons provided perimeter security, while second platoon and weapons platoon handled gate security and the ECC," Cobb said.

According to Sgt. Nick Rhea, squad leader, 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, F Co., 2/6, the security the Marines provided was one of the biggest factors in making the demonstration a success.

"It is always vital in any hostile situation, especially a NEO, to secure the area," said Rhea, a native of Solon, Ohio. "We are the first defense against any threat."

Rhea, whose squad was tasked with security of the ECC and surrounding areas, said NEO training is becoming more essential and the demonstration by the Marines was carried out effectively.

"It is a huge part of the Marine Corps now, especially in hostile areas of the world," Rhea said. "Everything came together right and everyone did their job the way they should have to ensure the success of the training."

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