TRONDHEIM, Norway --
Marines and personnel from Marine Corps Forces, Europe, led a joint-service team to Norway to assemble, palletized and deliver equipment from Marine Corps Prepositioning Program - Norway to Marines training Georgian Armed Forces soldiers, December 10 – 14.
The Marines conducting the training in Georgia represent the eighth and ninth rotations of the Georgia Deployment Program – International Security Assistance Force, entrusted with training and ensuring their Georgian counterparts have the knowledge and the skills needed to supplement Marines and ISAF personnel in Afghanistan.
The group of engineers, logisticians and subject matter experts, unwaveringly withstood the below freezing temperatures to accomplish their mission of assembling sustainment gear to send to the Marines in Georgia. Service members and personnel assigned to: MFE, II Marine Expeditionary Force and 819th Red Horse Squadron worked with their Norwegian counterparts to assemble, palletize and load more than 64,000 lbs. of equipment to support the Marine trainers in Georgia.
Each of them lent the operation a specific skill that ensured the Marines in Georgia were getting exactly the right gear to do their job.
The MCPP-N facility is made up of eight locations totaling more than 900,000 square feet of storage space. Inside caves is 471,445 sq. ft. of climate controlled storage space, regulated to between 45 to 55 percent humidity and a regulated temperature of between 45 to 50 degrees. This precise regulation allows tents, vehicle tires and other climate sensitive equipment to be stored safely and maintain a high level of readiness to be rapidly deployable for any contingency that may arise.
“There were three 60kw generators, two six-con fuel bladders, two shower systems, three, 3,000 gallon water bladders, 22 tents, 30 tent heaters, all the necessary electrical equipment to power both the shower systems and tents, 20 fire extinguishers, 95 cots, two maintenance tents, and two floodlights,” explained SSgt. Joseph Conradi, embark chief, Marine Corps Forces, Europe. “All the equipment combined will support a minimum of 80 Marines at the Vaziani South Training Area (VSTA) base camp.”
The need for this logistics operation arose, after a safety inspection was conducted of the current base camp in VSTA by Army Corps of Engineers. They concluded; the base was unsafe to live in and there was substantial enough risk to coordinate with MFE to source equipment from MCPP-N and engineers from the 819th Red Horse Squadron to construct a temporary base camp for the U.S. personnel there, to efficiently support the mission in VSTA, until the permanent structures are fixed and deemed safe for habitation.
Prior rotations were not required to live aboard the facility at VSTA, instead they would stage and run training from there. But, now the trainers are required to live there and also run training there, it was time for an upgrade to ensure the safety of the Marines and Georgian soldiers.
While the operation only took about three days there was quite a bit of work and coordination done behind the scenes at MFE.
“I initially developed the lay down of the base camp, to include developing the anticipated power requirement and distribution. This was refined by both the engineers from II MEF and those from the Air Force’s 819th Red Horse Squadron,” said Mike Harvey, prepositioning officer, MFE. “When the order was given to execute the mission, my job was to deploy with a team of Marines to Norway, withdraw and inspect the equipment, assist in the load out, and deploy to Georgia to deliver these assets.”
Once all of the gear was inspected, palletized and staged; a crew in their C-17 Globemaster III, a cargo/personnel aircraft assigned to the Heavy Airlift Wing, flew in from Hungary to transport the gear to the Republic of Georgia.
‘The Heavy Airlift Wing draws on the best 12 nations have to offer - the best personnel, the best practices, the best cultures, the best ideas,” explained U.S. Air Force, Col. Keith Boone, commander, Heavy Airlift Wing. “Our mission is simply stated - execute C-17 strategic airlift to meet the priorities and requirements of strategic airlift capability member nations.”
This operation further goes to prove the value of having MCPP-N sustainment and life-support assets prepositioned in a manner that facilitates an expeditious and comprehensive sourcing of equipment and supplies needed during a time of crisis.
In this case, the crisis was constructing a temporary base camp in order to prevent any Marines or Georgian personnel from getting injured living in unsafe conditions.
“Because of the Marine Corps' Prepositioning Program in Norway, not only was MFE able to answer the call for help, but able to do so in a very responsive manner that may have prevented unnecessary injuries,” Harvey concluded.