SUBIC BAY, Republic of the Philippines --
The U.S. Marine Corps and Navy demonstrated their capability of generating and sustaining combat power ashore during annual training exercise Freedom Banner 2013 with the Maritime Prepositioning Force offload in Subic Bay, March 21-22.
“Freedom Banner is a (U.S. Pacific Command-directed) exercise that supports multiple countries throughout the region,” said U.S. Marine Col. Mark J. Menotti, assistant chief of staff for Logistics, 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “This is the first time in more than 20 years that Freedom Banner is supporting the Philippines, which gives us an opportunity to build closer ties with the Philippine armed forces.”
In less than 48 hours, more than 270 Marine Corps tactical vehicles and amphibious assault vehicles were offloaded pier-side from the USNS 1st Lt Jack Lummus, a maritime prepositioning ship assigned to Maritime Preposition Squadron Three (MPSRON-3). One of the newest MPF ships of the MPSRON is a dry cargo/ammunition ship named after the Shoshone Indian guide of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2). The Sacagawea represents the Marine Corps’ solution to sea-based logistics.
As part of annual bilateral training exercise Balikatan 2013, the vessel will provide ship-to-shore sustainment of troops and equipment ashore in the form of MREs, fuel, construction material, ammunition, repair parts, and principle end items such as vehicles and generators. Unique to this operation will be the use of the MV-22B Osprey as a ship-to-shore connector. This will be the first time a III MEF Osprey conducts single and dual-point sling loads from a T-AKE.
The MPF program supports global positioning of Marine Air-Ground Task Force and naval equipment and supplies in response to a range of military operations from the quick and rapid buildup of combat power to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, added Menotti.
There are several phases to Freedom Banner. The offload of cargo typically takes three to four days. This is followed by 15 days of reduced operations — all gear and equipment is employed during BK13 humanitarian and civic assistance projects, command post exercise and field training exercise. The final phase is the reconstitution exercise where the equipment is surveyed and maintained, and subsequently prepared for redeployment onto the MPS. The ships are scheduled to depart at the end of the exercise April 30.
“What makes Freedom Banner unique is it offers a combatant commander the ability to project a MEB anywhere in the world in a short amount of time,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Sean M. Forester, operations officer for Logistics, 3D MEB.
By prepositioning key equipment and supplies in support of forward presence throughout the region, the Marine Corps can extend its global reach in crises response — significantly reducing the time and strategic lift required to complete synchronization of forces and equipment deployment in support of powerful and integrated crisis response capabilities, added Forester.
“Exercising this capability enables us as Marines to be a force in readiness for the Marine Corps and for America, with the power and the capability to execute any mission,” said Menotti.