YAUSUBETSU TRAINING AREA, Hokkaido, Japan –
A brisk burst of cold wind carried falling snow onto the skin of hundreds of Marines. The sting of the touch forced a Marine to mask his chilled nose. Far from the usual, he inspected the white blanket covering the ground on Yausubetsu Training Area, Hokkaido, Japan. The Marines participated in a regularly scheduled training exercise designed to improve the U.S. and Japan alliance by allowing infantry units to maintain lethality while training in austere environments alongside the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force from Jan. 26 to Feb. 8, 2020. Behind the grunts and the weather stood the Logistics Combat Element to maintain every logistical need. The LCE made sure units were supported, and everything ran smoothly.
An important contributor to the LCE was the Role II medical facility, a fully capable field medical clinic.
“We’re here to support the entire operation. Without us, they would have really limited medical capabilities. The only option would be to go to the hospital out in town which could take over an hour to get to,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Tamar Farmer, a corpsman with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group. “Our job is to perform life-saving interventions that would give them time to get to the hospital.”
The Role II is an echelon of care that provides basic medical care, along with dental, surgical and temporary hospitalization of casualties.
A medical clinic could only go so far without electricity. Marines with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd MLG, attached to the LCE to provide support by establishing power distribution grids across the area of operation and providing bulk fuel storage, fuel, showers and laundry.
“Nothing moves without bulk fuel. Troops wouldn’t be moved and the mission wouldn’t be achieved,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. David Millwood, a bulk fuel specialist, with Bulk Fuel Company, 9th ESB. “We supply the fuel that fuels the entire operation.”
The Marines from Bulk Fuel Company, 9th ESB, provided and stored fuel for all the tactical vehicles and equipment such as the heaters and generators. The Marines also supported the Air Combat Element by fueling their aircraft and equipment.
Marines with 9th ESB also supported the exercise by establishing a laundry system with next day return. They provided showers with warm water, which was appreciated by the Marines and Sailors in the cold Hokkaido climate.
“We are providing the operation with showers and laundry,” explained U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dillon McBean, a water support technician with Engineer Support Company, 9th ESB. “Our main goal is to provide hygiene support to all units.”
Transportation, vehicle recovery operations and delivery of supplies were provided by Marines with Transportation Services Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, Combat Logistics Regiment 3. The Marines also conducted regular maintenance and fuel checks to ensure the vehicles were mission ready. The operators provided the units, across multiple training sites, with food delivery, water, transportation and ammunition.
Supply Marines provided TS Co. and 9th ESB with parts and needed equipment. The LCE established a supply distribution network that allowed Marines to submit equipment orders to warehouses back in Okinawa and Iwakuni. In as little as two days, the troops in Hokkadio received their requested gear and equipment. Anything from new parts to wool socks were received in time to continue mission readiness and operations.
The LCE was constructed to provide capabilities for an entire task organized force. Many logistical nodes were established throughout this exercise to provide diligent and cohesive work and operations to maintain readiness and support for the MAGTF.
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the 3rd Marine Logistics Group website.