OKINAWA, Japan - Fourth Marine Regiment welcomed 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, June 11, as the first infantry battalion in the unit deployment program to deploy to Camp Schwab in several years.
Roughly 230 Marines and sailors with 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, arrived on Okinawa as part of the UDP. While on island, the battalion will be assigned to the division.
“The commandant established the UDP in October 1977 in order to provide for the deployment of units to the Western Pacific for periods of approximately six months,” said Col. Stephen M. Neary, 4th Marines and Camp Schwab commanding officer.
The infantry UDP was suspended in 2003 due to the increased personnel and equipment demands of fighting two wars, according to Neary, referring to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“4th Marines received the first company of 2/3 in April to support 4th Marines’ requirement in Australia as part of the rotational force,” said Neary.
An additional 700 Marines and sailors with the battalion will arrive at Camp Schwab later this week.
The battalion, which is based in Hawaii, prepared for the deployment by executing a full pre-deployment training program, according to Maj. Nicholas C. Nuzzo, executive officer of 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines.
“Originally, we thought we were going to Afghanistan,” said Nuzzo. “That changed, but nothing changed in the training we did. We performed the same training that you would do for a combat deployment, including Mojave Viper at (Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center) Twentynine Palms in California.”
The Marines and sailors will participate in theater security cooperation activities by partnering with regional allies during exercises while on the UDP, according to Neary.
“Our primary objective here is to be a forward-deployed unit ready to respond to any contingency,” said Nuzzo.
Marines assigned to the UDP will train on Okinawa in areas such as the Jungle Warfare Training Center in the northern training area, and throughout the region in countries including South Korea, New Caledonia, Australia, the Republic of the Philippines and other countries, according to Neary.
4th Marines’ mission under the UDP is to enable 2/3’s success, according to Neary. The regiment will employ 2/3 throughout the region.
The significance of having an infantry battalion UDP here is to give the nation and the commandant of the Marine Corps a force that is forward deployed and ready to answer any crisis in the region, according to Neary.
“The commandant’s priority is the Pacific,” said Neary. “Being expeditionary, being forward deployed, that’s what this UDP is all about.”
Everybody is excited to experience the region and the different training it has to offer, according to Sgt. Michael D. Kephart, a mortarman with the battalion.
“We have been working hard over the last year to prepare for this deployment, and we are ready to get out there and start our training,” said Kephart.
The battalion and its Marines have an extensive deployment history.
“Over the last eight or nine years we (deployed) in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom,” said Nuzzo. “We are excited about this deployment, which is new to the battalion.”
Second battalion, 3rd Marines, is a standard infantry battalion consisting of a headquarters company, three rifle companies and one weapons company, according to Nuzzo. It deployed with no additional attachments.
“The benefit of the UDP is there are many opportunities here for training and exercises with our allies in the Pacific region,” said Nuzzo. “Another benefit is to improve interoperability with those countries and improve our basic infantry skills.”
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