News: CLB-2 conducts NEO exercise aboard Quantico for upcoming deployment
Story by Cpl. Shawn Valosin
QUANTICO, Va. - Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force conducted an interoperability exercise focused on noncombatant evacuation operations aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., May 12 to14.
During a NEO, an evacuation control center is established and serves to provide essential services comprised of contraband search, medical screening, administrative processing and transportation of U.S. citizens, Department of Defense civilian personnel, and designated host nation and third country nationals to a designated safe haven.
Evacuation operations are characterized by uncertainty and may be directed without warning due to sudden changes in a country’s government, reoriented diplomatic or military relationships with the United States, a sudden hostile threat to US citizens from a force within or external to a host nation, or a devastating natural or man-made disaster.
“We’re practicing and training to set up an ECC, [which is] designed to facilitate the process of taking noncombatant evacuees out of a non-stable area and bringing them to a safe haven,” said 2nd Lt. James Blake, a Litchfield, Conn., native and the ECC officer in charge. “Not only are we here to demonstrate the mission capability of [conducting a NEO], but we’re [also] here to enhance the integration with the rest of the MAGTF.”
In order to make the training more realistic, 90 Marines and sailors with CLB-2 dressed in civilian attire, and performed the role of evacuees. This not only gave those Marines a better understanding of an ECC, but it aided the ECC Marines in their training. The ECC team flew in on two MV-22 Ospreys to simulate deploying to a country and evacuating an embassy. Additional realism was injected into the NEO training scenario by Marines from the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group. These Marines interacted with the ECC team and role players to enhance training vignettes and to improve ECC techniques based on real life scenarios each of them experienced while stationed at various U.S. Embassies.
“We’re role playing to help these guys set up for any kind of evacuation that may have to happen for this upcoming deployment,” said Cpl. Ryan Rapp, a Woodbridge, Va., native and motor transportation mechanic with CLB-2. “[This exercise] helps give these guys a baseline to go off of and tells them what they’re going to need to do, how they’re going to need to do it and see where improvements need to be made.”
Unit leaders rely upon their noncommissioned officers experiences and abilities to adapt to the fluid nature of these missions.
“Sergeants and corporals make things happen,” said Lt. Col. William Stophel, the commanding officer of CLB-2. “It’s an exciting time. You put a lot of strength in what the noncommissioned officers can do for you, because that’s the source of strength for any organization. Marines are rising to the occasion, and that’s good to see.”
CLB-2 will be fulfilling a unique role on their upcoming deployment. As a logistics unit they will not only perform their usual duties, but they will also serve as the command element for SPMAGTF Africa, which is a first for CLB-2 while also serving as the logistics combat element for SPMAGTF Crisis Response 14.2. The realistic training conducted aboard Quantico prepared the Marines for duties they may have to perform in crisis response situations, allowing them to be ready at a moment’s notice if needed.