News: Marines return from Operation Tomodachi
Story by Lance Cpl. Jovane Holland
OKINAWA, Japan - More than 60 Marines from the Consequence Management Support Force returned here from mainland Japan May 4, representing the departure of the last major element of the III Marine Expeditionary Force deployed to mainland in support of Operation Tomodachi.
The returning Marines, who worked primarily at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, are from various units and elements of III MEF.
The force, which consisted of more than 300 members, was a joint U.S. force established to support the government of Japan and Japan Self-Defense Force to respond to the nuclear, or radiological, incident on the island of Honshu following the devastating March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
The CMSF provided unique expertise in monitoring nuclear and radiation levels. The CMSF is comprised of Marines from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear unit of III MEF and from the Marine Corps’ Chemical Biological Incident Response Force stationed out of Indian Head, Md.
While there was no catastrophic nuclear or radiological incident to which the CMSF had to respond, force members, along with the government of Japan and JSDF, conducted bilateral exercises, including a demonstration of capabilities for the Japanese Defense Minister.
Since its establishment April 5, the force maintained a high state of mission readiness to respond to any potential secondary incident at Fukushima power plant, said Col. James Gannon, commanding officer of CMSF.
“We were postured to support the JSDF and government of Japan and assist in monitoring what could have been a very dangerous situation,” said Gannon. “Fortunately, the situation at the reactor has reached a point where it is highly unlikely the JSDF would need U.S. military decontamination or survey support.”
Although the CMSF represents the last major unit to leave mainland Japan, support for the U.S. ally will not falter, said Gannon.
“We will continue to maintain an enduring relationship with our Japanese friends,” said Gannon. “It has been a tremendous privilege for all of us to have been a part of this joint, interagency and bilateral operation.