News: Lejeune infantry battalion arrives
Story by Lance Cpl. Daniel Valle
CAMP SCHWAB, Japan - Brig. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, the commanding general of 3rd Marine Division, welcomed 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, to Okinawa during a welcome aboard brief Jan. 31 at the Camp Schwab theater.
The arrival of the Camp Lejeune, N.C., based 3rd Bn., 6th Marine Regiment, now brings a current total of two infantry battalions to Okinawa since the resumption of the unit deployment program last summer. The Hawaii-based 1st Bn., 3rd Marine Regiment, is also on Okinawa under the UDP.
3rd Bn., 6th Marine Regiment, is now assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF, while on Okinawa under the UDP, according to Capt. Brian N. Smith, the commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Bn., 6th Marine Regiment.
“The battalion is here under the UDP because it is where the Marine Corps needs us right now,” said Smith. “The Marines understand the strategic importance of being here in Okinawa and of our activities in the Asia-Pacific region. We are excited to be in a position to support our country’s interests and mission abroad.”
The Jungle Warfare Training Center and countries in the region provide unique training environments for units on Okinawa under the UDP, according to Padilla.
“We are shifting some of our focus back to fighting in the jungle,” said Padilla. “The UDP allows these Marines to come from the U.S. to train in the jungle terrain of Okinawa, as well as with key allies and partner nations in the region.”
During the battalion’s deployment, it will participate in training exercises both on and off Okinawa, according to Padilla.
“You are forward deployed while here so you can respond to any contingency that may occur in this region,” said Padilla. “You are also going to conduct operations and training with our allies in the region. Above all else, remember — you are a force in readiness.”
Sgt. Maj. Bruce H. Cole, the sergeant major of 3rd Marine Division, also spoke to the battalion’s Marines about his expectations.
“I have heard nothing but good things about this battalion, and I hope that continues here on Okinawa and when you train with our allies,” said Cole.
During the brief, Col. Richard D. Hall, the commanding officer of 4th Marine Regiment and Camp Schwab commander, explained the importance of being good ambassadors while stationed abroad.
“We are guests of all the nations we train with,” said Hall. “I am already impressed with what I have seen regarding this battalion’s behavior. You understand what it means to be Marines and carry yourselves accordingly. Continue setting that example."
“Every nation we train with holds us to a high standard because of the Marine Corps’ legacy,” said Hall. “We have great relationships with the Japan Self-Defense Force and the Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Thailand and Republic of the Philippines Marine Corps. Our relationships with our fellow Marines are the envy of other militaries in the region, and we cannot afford to ruin our reputation by making careless decisions.”
The Marines are looking forward to training throughout the region, according to Smith.
“We expect to conduct the same tough, realistic training we conducted before arriving,” said Smith. “The Marines are eager to see more of the region and for the off-island training opportunities in different countries with foreign militaries."
“I hope the Marines take away some new experiences and are able to learn new skills as far as being able to operate in a jungle environment,” said Smith. “They will be able to see another side of the Marine Corps that very few in the battalion have been exposed to.”