News: III MEF CG discusses priorities with Marines at Camp Schwab
Story by Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano
CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan—Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr. spoke to Marines and sailors May 7 during an all-hands discussion at Camp Schwab.
Glueck, the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force and senior general officer on Okinawa, talked about crisis response, bilateral and multilateral training and reconstituting III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“We have really raised the bar in terms of our abilities as a crisis response force over the past couple of years due to your efforts,” said Glueck. “I am highly confident in our ability to respond tonight if a crisis were to occur in our area of operations.”
After addressing the Marines and sailors of 3rd Marine Division and 3rd Marine Logistics Group, Glueck answered their questions.
“It resonates a whole lot more when Marines hear the commanding general personally (address) the campaign plan, rebalancing to the Pacific, standards of conduct, operational context and the purpose of why we are here as opposed to their immediate chain of command,” said Col. Richard D. Hall, the commanding officer of 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and Camp Schwab commander.
All infantry battalions are assigned to 4th Marine Regiment under the unit deployment program while stationed on Okinawa, and hearing Glueck’s guidance was especially beneficial for the UDP as well as the rest of the division’s Marines, who frequently deploy throughout the Asia-Pacific region and train alongside partner nations, added Hall.
Marines and sailors were able to hear the common themes from the commanding general and know they apply all the way down to noncommissioned officers and junior Marines, assuring there is no miscommunication on the priority to be prepared to fight tonight or respond to other contingencies as needed.
“It is a humbling experience when our MEF commander takes time out of his demanding schedule to talk to us and answer questions we may have so there is no misunderstanding of his intent,” said Cpl. David D. Lewis, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which is currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment under the unit deployment program. “I know that the rest of the Marines are just as appreciative that our MEF commanding general, sergeant major and command master chief came all the way up to Camp Schwab, emphasizing the importance of 3rd Marine Division as it trains throughout the region.”
During the talk of crisis response, Glueck highlighted III MEF’s ability to respond rapidly and efficiently to natural disasters. One possible scenario could take place in the city of Katmandu, Nepal, Glueck stressed, whose population of two to three million people live on a major geologic fault line.
“If a magnitude-7.0 or larger earthquake hits Katmandu, the result could be about 900,000 people homeless and 300,000 people killed or injured,” said Glueck.
III MEF has developed a complete, preemptive crisis response plan to the scientist’s prediction of a major earthquake, which occurs approximately every century. The Nepal scenario represents just one of many potential operations Glueck has made a priority for III MEF, and the division’s Marines and sailors understand the importance of integrating into those plans and maintaining a high level of readiness.
“Being forward deployed, any new information or guidance mentally prepares us so we can train like we fight, sustaining the capabilities to rapidly respond to any humanitarian assistance and disaster relief request or other contingencies that may occur in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan A. Foersch, an infantry unit leader with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “The commitment to the Pacific and other nations allows us the opportunity to understand each other, build friendships, and enhance operational readiness to truly be one team, one fight. The CG’s intent to be prepared to respond at a moment’s notice is achieved through commitment and demonstrated in each exercise the division engages in with partner nations’ militaries.”
It is Marines training with other nations’ service members and first-responders that make relationships with partner nations and alliances in the region stronger, according to Glueck.
Glueck concluded the briefing by noting that III MEF will soon have all the units required for a fully-functioning, MEF-level Marine air-ground task force.
Currently, III MEF has two infantry battalions on-island, with a third battalion scheduled to arrive in the near future, providing 3rd Marine Division with ample forces to train and engage in the region, according to Glueck. This will allow III MEF to remain America’s force in readiness, increase opportunities to train with regional partners, and enable better response to a myriad of crises.
“We will continue doing good things in the nations and communities we engage with across the Asia-Pacific region,” said Glueck. “Thank you for a job well done.”