News: CLB 31 supports BLT 2/7, 31st MEU during TS11
Story by Lance Cpl. Garry Welch
SHOALWATER BAY TRAINING AREA, Australia – Behind every combat unit, there is logistic support. For the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, there is Combat Logistics Battalion 31.
CLB 31 has been supporting Company G, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 31st MEU, during ongoing scenario-based operations taking place as part of exercise Talisman Sabre 2011.
“Our mission is to support the BLT with logistics,” said Maj. Calvin M. Gadsden, the executive officer of CLB 31, 31st MEU. “Right now, we are providing them specifically with fuel, water and chow. We are also providing a maintenance capability for the vehicles that break down as well as medical care.”
Throughout CLB 31’s participation in the field exercise, Marines and sailors had the opportunity to learn a different aspect of their jobs than would in garrison.
“My Marines learned a great deal about conducting operations in an austere environment,” said Gadsden. “For many of the Marines, they are used to operating out of a base camp or a built-up environment. In this particular exercise, we had to support the operations and be very mobile, so we did not use a lot of things that we would normally use.”
Gadsden went on to say they also had to provide their own security, so they used some of the basic skills that every Marine learns.
“I had to create a security detail for my Marines,” he said. “They had an opportunity to man defensive positions and do some patrols which are a great opportunities for them.”
Using those basic skills, and advancing their knowledge within their jobs helps prepare the Marines for a deployment into a combat zone, he said.
“It helps them because we have seen that we can face a myriad of tasks and missions,” said Gadsden. “My Marines have had an opportunity to participate in an environment with a vast array of requirements, which is very realistic to what they may encounter in Afghanistan.”
Navy corpsmen attached to the unit also built on their skills during the scenario-based operation.
“We’re here to support CLB 31 and the BLT with medical capabilities,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony D. Diaz, a corpsman with CLB 31. “During the beach landing, we had simulated casualties that we treated, and when we moved forward to Sam Hill, we continued to provide these Marines with that first line of medical coverage.”
Overall, the 31st MEU Marines and sailors said they were enjoying their time in Australia, learning with the Australians and hope to be able to participate in the joint exercise again.
Talisman Sabre 2011 is the largest joint military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force. Around 14,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian personnel participated. Talisman Sabre 2011 provided an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined and joint environment that will increase both countries’ bilateral war-fighting capabilities to respond to crisis and to provide humanitarian assistance.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.