News: Marine Prepositioning Force: from ship to shore part 1
Story by Lance Cpl. Shawn Valosin
Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part series covering Marine Prepositioning Forces. Part 1 covers the role of MPF members aboard a naval vessel.
MARINE CORPS SUPPORT FACILITY BLOUNT ISLAND, Fla. – When ground forces invade a country they do so with a limited amount of supplies. Re-supplying troops can be a herculean task, but prepositioning can alleviate and expedite the process.
Service members from II Marine Expeditionary Force, in conjunction with Sailors from Beach Master Unit Two, based at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., conducted a Marine Prepositioning Force Exercise here, May 22-30. For some service members, the exercise was a learning experience where they gained knowledge about the intricate details of MPF operations. For others, the exercise was a refresher course to ensure that they were up to date on operating procedures.
“What’s unique about this exercise is that in addition to operating in conjunction with various Navy commands and the United States Naval Ship Dahl, we were able to exercise the full scope of MPF operations by training with elements of II MEF,” said Cmdr. Tony Defrias, the commanding officer of BMU-2.
Prepositioning involves loading large naval ships with equipment and vehicles that ground forces might need in the future, then staging the ships in different regions around the globe. By prepositioning the ships, ground forces can be resupplied in a much shorter time frame than if the vehicles and equipment had to be sent from America.
Before a ship can be unloaded, a group of individuals known as the Off-load Prep Party must go aboard and prepare the cargo. This involves checking fluids in vehicles, starting the engines, and a multitude of other tasks to ensure that everything will be ready for ground forces.
During the exercise, service members from II MEF were selected to act as the OPP. While the main body stayed ashore, the OPP traveled by boat to the USNS Dahl, which was anchored 10 miles off the coast.
The crew lived on the ship for the duration of the exercise and made sure the cargo coming off was ready to be received by Marines and sailors on shore.
“We didn’t know what to plan for, because none of us had ever done something like this before, but the Marines took charge of their tasks and we accomplished the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Johnathan Rose, the platoon sergeant for truck platoon, General Support Motor Transportation Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, who acted as the staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge for the OPP.
Once cargo comes ashore it is received by the Beach Operations Group, or BOG. Members of the BOG unload shipping containers and vehicles from the lighterage boat that they were transported on, and send them to different stations where final adjustments can be made prior to going to ground forces.
“MPF is a lost skill that the Marine Corps will need to re-learn with us pulling out from Afghanistan,” said Captain Andrew Rice, a logistics officer with the 2nd Marine Logistics Group who acted as the officer-in-charge of the BOG.
Overall the OPP and BOG accomplished their mission by hard work and good communications. The cargo now waits for the next team, the Arrival and Assembly Operations Element.