MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Hundreds of Marines and sailors from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment and their augments said goodbye to families and friends this week as they boarded buses, to begin a journey which will take them through the South Pacific as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Also deploying from the Combat Center as supporting elements of the MEU are Kilo Battery, 3rd Bn., 11 Marines; 1st Platoon, Company D, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion; and 1st Platoon, Co. A, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
Second Bn., 7th Marines and its augments will become Battalion Landing Team 2/7, and serve as the ground combat element for the 31st MEU; a first in the regiment’s history, said Lt. Col. John Reed, the commanding officer for 2nd Bn., 7th Marines.
Reed said as part of the 31st MEU, his Marines, sailors and augments from other battalions will be forward deployed as a force in readiness and serve as the primary contingency force in the Pacific theatre.
According to the Commander’s Message on the MEU’s official Web site, they are slated to make stops in Thailand, Singapore and the Republic of the Philippines.
Reed said the MEU will work with partner nations in training exercises throughout the six-month deployment and serve as a rapid response force in the Pacific.
The MEU will work with Marines from Thailand during Exercise Cobra Gold, and then with Marines from the Republic of the Philippines in Exercise Balikatan.
The units faced distinctive challenges preparing for the amphibious deployment, namely adjusting to a new environment.
“Training for an amphibious deployment while stationed in the desert posed logistical problems as there was no water in which to train,” said Reed. “We overcame this by traveling to [Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.] and to [Coronado, Calif.] to do training which required water.”
Training in the desert did have its advantages and opportunities, mainly in the form of the kinetic, live-fire ranges which dominate the Combat Center’s landscape, he added.
Many of the Marines and sailors deploying from the Combat Center said they were looking forward to getting the opportunity to deploy and see other parts of the world.
“I’m really excited to go,” said Lance Cpl. Sam Engebose, an artillery mechanic with Battery K, 3rd Bn., 11th Marines, from Lake Oswego, Ore., who has never deployed before. “I want to see other cultures in other parts of the world – I can’t wait.”
“It is an absolute privilege to be deployed as an amphibious force,” Reed said. “Given the history and traditions of the Marine Corps, it’s an honor.”