News: Marines arrive in San Francisco for Fleet Week 2011
Story by Sgt. Heidi Agostini
SAN FRANCISCO – Marines and sailors with I Marine Expeditionary Force arrived in San Francisco today to showcase the Corps’ capabilities during Fleet Week.
Camp Pendleton’s I MEF partnered with the San Francisco Fleet Week Association and 3rd Fleet to execute the annual Fleet Week. This opportunity allows for service members of the Navy-Marine Corps team to connect with citizens of the Bay Area.
“We’re absolutely excited about the opportunity to get north and get into the bay,” said Maj. Gen. Melvin Spiese, commanding general of 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade. “We are pouring ourselves into this, both from the training perspective of what we think we can get out of it, but far more importantly, the opportunity to put on display to the people of San Francisco and the Bay Area what the Marine Corps is and what their Marine Corps means to them.”
The command element of 1st MEB, and elements of 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Division and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing will embark and offload personnel and equipment to showcase the Marine Corps’ unique capabilities in humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Marine units will demonstrate assets available for the Bay Area in response to a sudden crisis. The intent is to showcase amphibious nature, readiness and the ability to respond to disasters and to highlight the role the Navy-Marine Corps team can play in assisting disaster victims in medical surge capabilities.
“San Francisco is offering us an opportunity to interact with civilian authorities in ways we typically don’t, but could in the event of a significant natural disaster,” Spiese said. “Marines have been mobilized to support civilian authorities under conditions of natural disasters in the past. Certainly, something bad happening in San Francisco would see a requirement to mobilize forces in support of a recovery and disaster relief up there, so we see this as an opportunity to do some training on things that do come across our way from time to time, but in particular in a mission that would be very challenging and one I suspect we would be tasked with in the event it were to occur.”
Since 1990, the Marine Corps has conducted more than 100 amphibious operations around the world. The missions ranged from humanitarian aid and disaster response in such varied places as New Orleans, Haiti and Pakistan to crisis response in Lebanon and the Ivory Coast, as well as security and counter terrorism operations in Latin America, Georgia, the Philippines and the Horn of Africa. When, not if, a catastrophic earthquake hits San Francisco, I MEF will be trained to swiftly cooperate with civil authorities for humanitarian assistance efforts. In the event of an earthquake, the Marine Corps can quickly provide fresh water, establish aid stations, communicate with authorities and the public and evacuate victims.
Navy medical officers are scheduled to highlight medical capabilities on Marina Green to include surgical companies and shock trauma platoons. I MEF is also partnering with area medical professionals to exchange ideas and procedures in the event of a natural disaster.
Marine Corps and Navy Aviation demonstrations, community outreach events, senior-leader seminars and military equipment displays and band concerts are scheduled for the Bay Area during Fleet Week.
“To have the opportunity to have citizens offer thanks and appreciation to our Marines and sailors as they make their way through San Francisco is personally rewarding as a Marine but also a citizen,” Spiese said. “To see the positive interaction between our military and our citizens, I’m not sure we understand how unique that may be around the world. For me it’s reinforcement of all that comes out of the Constitution that builds the armed forces. San Francisco offers that.”