News: III Marine Expeditionary Force provides support to those affected by tsunami
Story by 1st Lt. Lindsay Pirek
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP S. D. BUTLER, OKINAWA, Japan – Marines and sailors from III Marine Expeditionary Force continue to provide support for foreign humanitarian assistance operations from Okinawa to mainland Japan. The operation, known as Tomodachi, means “friends” in Japanese, and was chosen by Japan.
Today, III MEF personnel and gear departed the Naha Military Port at 9 a.m. on the High Speed Vessel in route to mainland Japan. The HSV will deliver a Forward Arming and Refueling Point for use in the assistance operations. A FARP is a temporary facility normally located close to the area of operations that allows aircraft to conduct continuous operations without having to return to an established airport to obtain fuel. This capability enables helicopters to fly rescue and transport missions almost non-stop.
The HSV is also transporting additional supplies, communications equipment and personnel that will be used in the relief operations. The FARP and other supplies will arrive at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni for further transportion to the identified FARP location.
Two KC-130J cargo aircraft returned from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to MCAS Futenma at 1:30 p.m. to pick up a Deployable Joint Command and Control system and transport it to Naval Air Station Atsugi. The DJC2 system provides an integrated, rapidly deployable, modular Joint Command and Control system to support Joint Task Force command and control operations.
A third KC-130J cargo aircraft is scheduled to depart MCAS Futenma this evening with personnel from the maintenance detachment of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF to MCAS Iwakuni to support the aircraft flying on mainland Japan during the assistance operations. The location of MCAS Futenma and its close proximity to Marine units and supplies supporting the relief mission has proved critical to the III MEF disaster response effort.
Eight CH-46E transport helicopters of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, MAG-36, 1st MAW, III MEF normally located at MCAS Futenma are now positioned at NAS Atsugi and available to conduct relief operations. The mission of the Marine Corps rotary wing aircraft in support of relief operations is survey, recovery and humanitarian assistance support.
Humanitarian assistance survey teams are in place and ready to begin assessing the damaged area and assisting the government of Japan with providing accurate information to disaster relief planners, both military and civilian. The HASTs are capable of distributing supplies and providing basic medical care for those in immediate need of aid.
In addition, Marines and sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked aboard ships, continue to move towards Japan. The 2,200 Marines and sailors are expected to be off the coast of mainland Japan within the next several days.
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