News: 31st MEU departs for CG 12
Story by Gunnery Sgt. J. L. Wright Jr.
CAMP HANSEN, Japan - Elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit departed Okinawa en route to the Kingdom of Thailand Jan. 25 to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold.
During the exercise, members of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, and portions of Combat Logistics Battalion 31, will complete a variety of amphibious operations.
CG 12 is an annual multinational, multi-service exercise, hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand and developed in coordination with the United States.
“The Marines are chomping at the bit to go and are ready to leave Okinawa and start touring the Pacific and executing our mission,” said Lt. Col. Kevin A. Norton, commanding officer of BLT 1st Bn., 4th Marines. “During the exercise we’ll be conducting our normal MEU missions, which are amphibious raids, amphibious assaults, helicopter assaults, small-boat raids and humanitarian disaster relief operations.”
Aboard various Navy ships with Amphibious Squadron 11, including USS Tortuga, the Marines and sailors are underway to execute the multinational events the MEU is used to. For some, however, this is their first MEU deployment and, for even fewer, their first deployment ever.
“At first I was disappointed that my first deployment wasn’t going to be combat and that I was going to be on ship doing exercises for three months,” said Lance Cpl. Cosmo Peters, a machine gunner with Company A, BLT 1st Bn., 4th Marines. “However, after talking to some of my seniors, I realized that although it’s not a combat deployment, it’s beneficial how it further prepares us for a combat deployment and builds better ties with our allies.”
The 31st MEU is scheduled to participate in various multilateral raids and evacuation exercises during the exercise alongside military forces from the Kingdom of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Republic of Korea, the United States, and representatives from other countries. Members of the MEU will also conduct multiple community outreach programs, including the renovation of public schools and providing children with school supplies.
Other nations that have been invited to participate in the exercise as part of the multinational planning augmentation team include Australia, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Italy, India, Nepal, Republic of Philippines and Vietnam.
After this, we’ll be able to conduct raids with fellow Marines from other partner nations and allies, said Peters.
“When I come back I will be better educated to pass my knowledge down to any new Marines in the unit – a cycle that continues,” Peters said.