ATLANTIC OCEAN, USS Iwo Jima --
The Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force embarked the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, July 14-15 for a deployment to the U.S. Southern Command’s area of operation in support of Operation Continuing Promise 2010.
Special-Purpose MAGTF is made up of Marines from Marine Air Control Squadron 2, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774, from Norfolk, Va., Combat Logistics Regiment 25 and Company A, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Marines from the Special-Purpose MAGTF were transported from shore to ship via CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, Landing Craft Utilities and Amphibious Assault Vehicles.
“It’s a very comforting feeling to know all our Marines and Sailors are safely embarked (USS Iwo Jima) with all of our AAVs, helicopters and vehicles,” said Lt. Col. Chris S. Richie, the commanding officer of the Special-Purpose MAGTF.
Aside from the Marine Corps’ roles in supporting CP10 with air, ground and logistics aspects, Marines are scheduled to conduct subject matter expert exchanges, humanitarian relief efforts and community relations while in different countries.
It’s an opportunity for us to demonstrate to our partner nations in Latin America and the Caribbean what America can do … especially what Marines and Sailors are capable of doing with a MAGTF, said Richie.
The Special-Purpose MAGTF and USS Iwo Jima are logistically prepared for a hurricane or tropical storm to occur during their deployment. The ship is stocked with pallets of food, medical supplies, wheelchairs, X-ray machines, toys and more to be donated to specific countries upon arrival.
“The most relevant aspect of this MAGTF is that we’re postured to respond in the event of a crisis,” said Richie. “If a hurricane were to hit, this MAGTF combined with the robust medical, engineering and communications capabilities of the Continuing Promise team would be the first responder to roll in to help save lives and reduce human suffering.”
The USS Iwo Jima and Special-Purpose MAGTF are more than prepared for a natural disaster if it were to occur during the deployment.
“We are absolutely organized, trained and equipped with a relevant capability,” Richie said. “You hope and pray that you would not have to use it for a crisis, but if a crisis hits, we know we’re going to make a difference.”
For many Marines and Sailors, it is their first time being aboard ship at sea, said Richie. As time progresses throughout the deployment, Marines and Sailors will be able to build a strong working relationship and form what the Navy and Marine Corps refer to as the blue/green team.
“We’ve got four months ahead of us and there will be challenges,” said Richie. “It’s going to be an exciting opportunity for all, and four months later we’re going to look back and know we made a difference.”