15th MEU News
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Captain Nikolas H. Aiona-Aka, Japanese linguist, Marine Air Logistics Squadron 16, 3rd Marine Air Wing, works with James Whitlatch, Theater Security Coordination planner, during a staff planning exercise at Edson Range, Jan. 24. The JGSDF are here to participate in Exercise Iron Fist 2012 with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a unique training opportunity for both services.

Photo by Cpl. John Robbart III

Staff exercise coordinates Iron Fist 2012

26 Jan 2012 | Cpl. John Robbart III 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The complex and challenging missions assigned to Marine Expeditionary Units require serious planning from its staff officers within the unit to ensure operations run smoothly.

A staff officer is a military officer who serves on the commander's staff, working in a particular field and is responsible to the unit commander for tasks that fall under their specialty. For example, all questions involving logistics would fall under the logistics officer's area of responsibility.

This week, Marine, Navy and Japanese officers worked together during Exercise Iron Fist 2012 focusing on a staff exercise. The staff exercise challenged the leaders to practice planning their respective trades for a real world operation.

"The staff planning exercise is for interoperability with coalition partners, Japanese Ground Self Defense officers and with our Navy partners to prepare for deployment and future operations in the pacific theater," said Maj. Stephen H. Mount, exercise coordinator and the air officer at the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Command Element. "When we do real world operations, procedures are established before hand, as are the relationships we have with our Navy partners and foreign allies," added the Encinitas, Calif. Native.

During Exercise Iron Fist 2012, many different events are involved, and the staff exercise helps ensure that the various ranges and troop movements are executed without a flaw.

"This is no different than real world operations in a foreign country," said Capt. Eric J. Taylor, assistant logistics officer, 15th MEU CE.

Exercise Iron Fist 2012 involves boat training, different ranges, and a period at sea.

"The staff exercise is great preparation for deployment and the training that comes with it," said Mount.

The designated training areas on the Southern California coastline provides a unique amphibious training opportunity, not existent in Japan, for the JGSDF and the USMC to enhance their interoperability and amphibious capabilities.

The 15th MEU is currently training for a routine deployment later this fall.

15th Marine Expeditionary Unit