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1/3 prepares for 31st MEU

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 5/10/2004

Story by Lance Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson

May 7, 2004) -- Since learning of their upcoming deployment to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Japan, the Lava Dogs of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, have tackled numerous training evolutions in their preparation for the Special Operations Capable (SOC) designation.

Prior to deployment, each MEU takes approximately six months to thoroughly train in 29 unique capabilities. A MEU must be tactically proficient and graded in these capabilities to be certified as SOC. These missions range from humanitarian assistance to traditional amphibious assaults and SOC missions.

In normal circumstances, Battalion Landing Teams receive time to fully integrate with the entire MEU, to include the aviation support and command elements, to refine the command and control of the expeditionary unit. The Lava Dogs, however, prepared in a third of the time normally provided.

"I think the ability of 1/3 to assess this mission on short notice is a good example of how flexible 3rd Marines can be," said Col. Jeffrey J. Patterson, 3rd Marine Regiment's commanding officer.

According to Lt. Col. Michael R. Ramos, commanding officer of 1/3, the short notice only motivated the Marines more. "The Holy Grail" for 1/3 Marines will be embark day with the special operations capable certification in their hip pocket.

"This time around, we had to focus on our wartime mission essential tasks," said Ramos. "All of the fluff and nonessential training had to be cut out, and thanks to the outstanding support of 3rd Marine Regiment's commander Colonel Patterson, and other supporting commands and establishments on this base, 1/3 has accomplished all their objectives to date."

"The Marines had to learn these new skills extremely fast in order to be well prepared for the MEU," said Patterson.

The 1/3 Marines along with artillery, engineers, light armored reconnaissance, and reconnaissance Marines will make up the ground combat element of the MEU.

"This composite of Marines makes them [the 31st MEU] capable of performing conventional ground operations in a successful manner," said Ramos.

"A total of roughly 1,300 Marines are expected, and they will conduct a series of training evolutions that include amphibious shipping with our U.S. Navy counterparts."

The training prior to and during the MEU is very realistic, and focused on likely scenarios, said Ramos.

"They are very motivated about the training that is being conducted," said Patterson. "I think the war on terror helps bring out that motivation to succeed as well."

"After the MEU, we aren't sure where we are going [mission-wise]," said Ramos. "But we are expecting combat in the future."

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