USS MESA VERDE --
Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, practiced humanitarian assistance procedures aboard USS Mesa Verde, April 18, 2011.
The Marines refined their procedures and processed Marine role-players into a tent city.
“This here is us, no kidding, doing humanitarian assistance,” said Staff Sgt. Scott D. Faulkner, the engineer platoon sergeant and Lebanon, N.H., native with CLB-22. “This is how we make our bread and butter in our relationships with the world.”
The Marines spent the day gathering role-players’ personal information, assigning them to tents and issuing rations cards to draw food, water, clothing and possibly fuel.
With such limited space on ship, the Marines practiced processing paper work because that is one of the more difficult parts of humanitarian assistance.
“This is the part where it gets a little confusing, because the people coming in tend to be confused themselves,” said Faulkner.
Each role-player threw a different scenario at the Marines such as pretending to be seriously ill, handicapped or not able to understand English.
In the event of an actual humanitarian assistance mission there will be a medical tent, a food service tent, security and many other combined assets to help refugees or internally displaced persons.
“This is very important to me, I hope we get to participate,” said Lance Cpl. Jordan E. Gass, a landing support specialist and Blackford, Ky., native with CLB-22. “I signed up with the idea to help people.”
Humanitarian assistance is just as engrained into the Marine Corps as combat operations, and Marines are efficient at both.
“From the logistics battalion viewpoint, humanitarian assistance, non-combatant evacuation operations and mass casualty operations are three core competencies,” said Faulkner. “Knowing how to do this, is the same as the battalion landing team knowing how to do a mechanized raid.”
Humanitarian assistance is a mission set not unknown to the 22nd MEU, Amphibious Squadron 6 and the USS Bataan.
They combined early last year to provide Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the people of Haiti after the country was struck by an earthquake.
As the MEU continues across the Atlantic Ocean to relieve the 26th MEU, who provided disaster relief to Pakistan last year, it is still uncertain what mission they will receive, and humanitarian assistance is one they feel confident in their ability to execute.
“Helping people has been a big part of my life,” said Gass who added he was in the Salvation Army before joining the Marine Corps. “I’m ready.”
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and will continue to train and improve the MEU’s ability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission, capable force, commanded by Col. Eric J. Steidl and comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element.
Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps' smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response to a hostile environment or crisis.