MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Nearly 35 Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit rehearsed a humanitarian assistance operation in the Sierra Training Area, here, June 5.
The exercise was in support of the Amphibious Squadron Three and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s pre-deployment training titled PHIBRON-MEU Interoperability Training. The exercise will help the two units function as a blue-green team capable of conducting worldwide missions ranging from humanitarian aid to combat.
For this exercise, the Marines set up an internally displaced persons camp to assist role players who recently experienced a large earthquake which destroyed their homes. The Marines’ mission was to provide basic necessities and return the area to its pre-crisis state.
“In a real life scenario we would provide immediate relief to ease the suffering of the local populace,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin T. Rapach, officer-in-charge, Engineer Detachment, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “This unique training enables the Marines to practice something that could potentially become a real-world scenario on deployment,” added the 25-year-old native of Marion Center, Pa.
Before entering the camp, the logistics combat element employed a security element to search the refugees for the safety of the camp. They were then processed into the site and issued meal cards for food and water. Additionally, they were given the opportunity to see medical personnel.
“We are here to make them feel as welcome as possible,” said Cpl. Zurisaday N. Diaz, administrative clerk, Headquarters Detachment, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “This is also giving us a chance to practice how we will interact with the local nationals if we conduct a mission like this on deployment,” added the 22-year-old native of Ventura, Calif.
The 15th MEU is no stranger to humanitarian missions. Their last deployment in 2010 involved providing assistance to victims of severe flooding Pakistan.
“This was a learning experience for everyone,” said Staff Sgt. Victor R. Sanchez, platoon sergeant, Engineer Detachment, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “This is a much smaller sized camp than what we would have on a deployment, but the Marines and sailors are still able to get a feel for what they will be doing,” added the 28-year-old native of Bridgeport, Wash.
The 15th MEU is currently preparing for its deployment scheduled for this fall.