On 28 March, 2011, I set off on a great adventure. I was invited to spend four months with 2d Battalion, 2d Marines on their deployment with the 22 Marine Expeditionary Unit. I will be conducting my initial research to tell the Marines’ expeditionary story in a forthcoming book and I will also be writing periodic posts to this web log so that you too can make the journey with these dedicated men and women as they deploy in these troubled times.
This last week has reaffirmed my admiration for the Sailors and Marines who leave their lives behind to sail the seas in the service of their nation. I am traveling with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), carrying the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The blue/green team is known as the ARGMEU. We spent several days loading personnel, equipment, vehicles and aircraft. The Sailors and Marines wasted no time in getting down to business. Everyone is planning and preparing as we are sailing off into history.
The ARGMEU stands ready to provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, or to conduct combat missions. The ARGMEU is ready to extend a helping hand or bring down an iron fist. In the words of Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Miller, “Together, as a team, we are stronger than anyone.”
And, this blue/green team is doing it all on a miser’s budget. I know of no better way to project American diplomacy and power around the world. 22nd MEU stands ready for any mission. It is amazing to see all the weapons systems and equipment in top-notch condition, but the ancillary equipment is old and some is in dire need of repair. The Navy and Marine Corps are spending your money wisely but the Amphibious Navy/Marine team needs more, not less.
I am sitting in the wardroom lounge in a chair that is falling apart. The metal desk drawer handles have fallen off and have been replaced more than once. The computer itself is five or six years old. The commercial internet connection that the Marines and Sailors use to communicate with their loved ones is a decade old and is brutally slow. The bathrooms are in need of renovation and so are the Marines living quarters.
Yet, the Sailors and Marines, the ships and aircraft, and all the critical equipment are prepared for whatever may come their way. These young men and women will soon stand ready as America’s next 911 force in the Mediterranean Sea.
Richard S. Lowry has been writing about the Marine Corps for many years. To learn more about his writing and how to purchase his latest book, visit www.richardslowry.com.Read the full post and comments »