News: JFLCC (Fwd) works behind scenes to assist GOJ in relief efforts
Story by Gunnery Sgt. J. L. Wright Jr.
CAMP SENDAI, Japan – Operation Tomodachi has been on the forefront as one of the focal points of the news media since the devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the northern portion of mainland Japan two weeks ago.
Despite other developing issues in today’s news, such as the no-fly zone and conflict in Libya, many spectators around the globe continue to monitor government of Japan-led relief efforts in the operation.
While most of the headlines today focus on the ever-evolving situation at the nuclear power facility in Fukushima, there are many headlines surrounding the relief efforts of the GOJ – most of which involve passing out goods and supplies to those affected.
While most people involved would like to be on the front line, distributing water, blankets and other supplies, everyone participating in Operation Tomodachi has a significant role to play.
A small contingent of these personnel, working out of a two-story building tucked away on Camp Sendai, have been working around the clock bilaterally with members of GOJ’s Northeast Army to develop plans and courses of action to help in the relief efforts.
These men and women, most of whom are from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade based on Okinawa, Japan, boarded aircraft within hours of the disaster to set up a command operations center here to begin working with their Japanese counterparts in providing relief efforts.
“The operations center here at Camp Sendai is designed to tie into the bilateral control center and coordinate all of the moving pieces of supplies being moved to the different areas in Japan that need resupply,” says Master Sgt. Mike Hussey, the operations chief for the now Joint Forces Land Component Command (Forward).
Service members and civilian specialists from both the GOJ and U.S., use their skill sets to accomplish this, according to Bill Laspina, a Disaster Assistance Relief Team member.
The members of the BCC work together to determine a need or requirement, he says. After the need is determined, BCC personnel push the request to members of the COC, like Hussey, to determine if and how it can be supported.
As a member of DART, Laspina’s role involves vetting and validating each request before it is delivered to the members of the COC.
While the members of the COC and BCC may not find themselves in the media’s limelight, their role in providing relief to disaster-stricken areas in Japan is meaning enough, according to Maj. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis, 3rd Marine Division commanding general and the JFLCC commander.
“The whole team: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are working long days and I am proud of them,” he said. “All of the American service personnel in Operation Tomodachi are honored to support our Japanese allies and friends …”
For more news, photos and videos of relief efforts in Japan, visit www.facebook.com/iiimef.mcbj.