News: On land and sea: CLB-24 trains for humanitarian efforts
Story by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Marines and sailors attached to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group participated in a three-day training exercise in preparation for Defense Support of Civil Authorities, or DSCA, operations aboard Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., Aug. 20 to 22.
A DSCA mission would occur if the local and state authorities that were victims of a natural or man-made disaster requested Department of Defense support to fill a specific gap in their ability to respond.
The DOD would then find an appropriate unit to fill that void based on its capability to help where needed.
“We’re a force in readiness – not only globally, but here in the United states – to respond to any event where military assistance may be needed to facilitate taking care of the United States and its citizens,” said 1st Lt. Thomas J. Heemer, the landing support platoon commander for CLB-24. “That could be responding to a hurricane – such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina in the past – or any disaster, which would [require] such a large-scale response.”
This training operation was designed to test how long it would take CLB-24 to drive from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Little Creek, Va., load personnel and equipment aboard Navy ships, and conduct an amphibious response to a request for support.
“We’ve put together a battalion-size element capable of doing everything [we cover] as a combat logistics unit, essentially focusing on how we get what we need to facilitate the DSCA mission to the people who need to use it,” said Heemer, who is also the acting commander of CLB-24’s motor transport company. “This is one of the first times we have gotten the opportunity to come together and really see the things we’ve been talking about for the last couple months through to fruition.”
The battalion has the capability to provide electricity, pure water and shelter to aid in various types of natural disasters.
The Marines practiced loading and offloading procedures with Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements from both a beach and pier to simulate the two most likely landing and departure environments during a DSCA event.
“You don’t get this [training] back on Camp Lejeune,” said Cpl. Matthew J. Kirchmer, the embarkation chief for CLB-24. “You can’t drive on a [Landing Craft Air Cushion] or a [Landing Craft Utility] unless you’re doing an exercise like this on Onslow Beach. [The Marines] need to be able to do this, because if a mission happens, they have to be able to get in those vehicles and be comfortable because we’re going to have a time limit.”
Despite believing that a longer training exercise would be beneficial to the service members, Kirchmer said the short time added to the realism of the event. More time would give the vehicle operators more practice, but the limited period stressed the importance of working quickly to complete the operation.
“We are trying to mirror what we would do [on a DSCA mission],” said Heemer. “It’s giving us the opportunity to find the one or two things we might have overlooked, so when it’s game time and we’re on the go line, [we will know] what it is we’re going to need to do to firm up a very executable and efficient plan to move this unit up to where it’s needed most for the American people.”