More than 500 Marines and sailors with 1st Marine Logistics Group and I Marine Expeditionary Force embarked on a Maritime Prepositioning Force offload mission in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for Exercise Eager Lion 2014, from May 25-29, 2014.
The exercise focused on maintaining and strengthening military interoperability with the Jordanian Armed Forces and practicing current MPF concepts using existing platforms in support of expeditionary crisis action and contingency operations.
“Some of the big things we hope to accomplish here are really getting the Marines and sailors trained on MPF operations. It’s something the Marine Corps hasn’t really done a lot of over the last ten years, but we are really refocusing everyone back to the amphibious roots that the Marine Corps was founded on,” said Capt. Christopher Tucker, Landing Support Company, company commander, Headquarters Regiment, 1st MLG, and native of Toledo, Ohio.
During an MPF operation, equipment capable of supporting a regimental-sized mechanized Marine Air-Ground Task Force is unloaded, logged, inspected and repaired to ensure all gear is ready for future missions. Eager Lion personnel conducted the offload of the MPF ship at thePort of Aqaba, offloading more than 300 pieces of gear in a total of 16 hours.
Marines and sailors offloaded 72 7-ton trucks, 115 Humvees, seven medical vehicles, four M1A1 tanks, and 14 Amphibious Assault Vehicles.
The equipment for this mission arrived on the USNS 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez, a Maritime Prepositioning ship, named after a U.S. Marine –a Korean War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. The vessel is one of 14 ships in the Navy and Marine Corps’ prepositioning fleet. It carries a company of tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles and a battery of howitzers.
Once the equipment was unloaded from the ship, it was taken to the arrival assembly operations echelon, where the equipment went through a limited technical inspection, was scanned to show it was received and then issued out.
It’s important to maintain the vehicles coming off the ships, said Sgt. Nelson Guevara, wrecker operator chief, Motor Transportation Company, 1st Maintenance Battalion, 1st MLG. If any of these vehicles go down, mechanics need to be ready to fix it and get it back to working conditions as soon as possible. The Landing Force Support Program is in charge of all the vehicles coming off the ships. Some trucks are dismantled to fit in areas of the ship so Marine mechanics rebuild them before sending them to their respective locations.
The MPF Program enables the rapid deployment, engagement, and retrograde of a fully capable MAGTF anywhere in the world.
“MPF operations are really key to the Marine Corps because it gives us the ability to get equipment expeditiously and conduct our mission fast and in a hurry,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Christopher A. Toten, airfield services chief, G-4, I MEF. “It’s a lot of work and many of the Marines have never done it. It’s also a good opportunity for the Marines and sailors to conduct operations out here and work with other allied nations.”
Jordan is an important ally of U.S. It provides sea access to the U.S. military, which is vital for Marines to conduct MPF operations, added Toten, a native of Jackson, Miss. It’s a perfect place to do it because it has similar terrain, language and ports and facilities Marines would use in a real world contingency, such as humanitarian assistance missions. Exercise Eager Lion 14, which has been conducted annually since 2011, includes more than 12,500 servicemembers from more than 20 countries. The exercise provides multi-lateral forces with the opportunity to promote cooperation and interoperability among coalition forces, build functional capacity, practice crisis management and enhance readiness.
“Any opportunity we have to train with our partners in the region is always of great value,” said Lt. General Robert B. Neller, commander, Marine Corps Forces Central Command, and native of East Lansing, Mich. “To do so with one of our very best and capable partners, the Jordanian Armed Forces, makes Eager Lion just that much more special. To the JAF, as always, we appreciate your professionalism and hospitality and look forward to continuing to build and develop the special relationship we have with you.”