VENTSPILS, Latvia --
A simulated earthquake brings a humanitarian crisis to the Baltic Sea region and the Marines and Sailors from Charlie Company, 4th Landing Support Battalion and Naval Beach Group 2 arrive at the port to help.
Working in close coordination with members of the Armed Forces of Latvia, local civilian and port authorities, and Latvian contractors, the Navy and Marine Corps Team delivered a robust maritime preposition force (MPF) offload during exercise Baltic Operations 2010.
“This is another example of when we as Marines and Sailors are working together with our NATO partners to further develop our interoperability,” said Mike Harvey, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe prepositioning officer. “When we come together and conduct the three objectives of MPF offload, it not only shows that we are able to work together to prove and improve MPF concepts, but it also gives us a chance to strengthen our ties and continue to build partnerships and professional relationships.”
To prove those concepts, the Marines, sailors and Latvians conducted equipment offload at sea and in port, staged the equipment in a logistics support area (LSA), and then transported the equipment throughout the country via three modes of transportation, according to Harvey.
Harvey said the purpose of the transportation was to allow the Latvians to demonstrate their ability to integrate into the U.S. MPF offload process and stress their infrastructure.
“The ability to take military equipment and vehicles from ship to shore, stage it and prepare it for onward movement and then conduct that movement with tactical convoy, commercial trucking and railways shows the importance of this exercise,” Harvey said.
While the focus of the exercise was on the MPF offload in support of a simulated humanitarian aid crisis, the training didn’t only benefit the Latvians.
“This kind of training is hard to come by, so it benefits our Marines greatly by giving them more experience with beach and pier-side operations and the specific platforms that they utilize,” said Staff Sgt. Jamison Johnson, beach operations/port operations group chief with Charlie Company.
According to Johnson, the ability for the Marines to work with the Latvians throughout the entire process provided vital experience in working in a coalition environment.
“If the port is full or inadequate, the ability to conduct beach operations allows the mission to continue unhindered,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Bath, landing support specialist with Charlie Company. “So, to come out here and get to do all the aspects of our job, that is really important. Especially since it is in a coalition environment and that is how we operate more and more these days.”
During a demonstration portion of the two-week exercise, the Marines, Sailors and Latvians had a chance to show the fruits of their collective labors to the highest ranking individuals in the Latvian military.
Latvian President Valdis Zatlers, Minister of Defense Imants Lieģis, and the Commander of National Armed Forces of Latvia Maj. Gen. Juris Maklakovs all toured the training areas here and had a first-hand look at what the two forces had accomplished during the exercise.
“I’m very impressed with the skills and the cooperation between the American and Latvian forces,” said President Zatlers. “It gives me a sense of security and that is the most important message I get from this event. I’m grateful to the United States, the other allies participating in the exercise and to my countrymen for making this exercise such a success.”