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Pacific Horizon tests Maritime Prepositioning Force

28 October 2014

From Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jonathan Nelson

Expeditionary Strike Group 3 and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade have been practicing ship-to-shore techniques for moving equipment and supplies during the Oct. 20-28 exercise.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON , Calif. - Expeditionary Strike Group 3 and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade participated in Navy-Marine Corps joint exercise Pacific Horizon from Oct. 20-28.

Pacific Horizon is a scenario driven, simulation supported crisis response exercise designed to improve 1st MEB's and ESG-3's interoperability and strengthen Navy-Marine Corps relations by conducting an in-stream Maritime Prepositioning Force offload of equipment by providing host country civil-military security assistance, and by conducting infrastructure restoration support.

The operation consisted of Navy and Marine Corps personnel using ship-to-shore techniques to ferry tactical vehicles and supplies from Military Sealift Command ships to the shore.

Pacific Horizon employed the latest technologies and operation techniques to accomplish goals. Included in the exercise was a new Military Sealift Command ship, the mobile landing platform USNS Montford Point (MLP 1), which is currently undergoing testing.

Montford Point, USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312) and USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams (T-AK 3009), staged several nautical miles off the shore, acted as a mobile supply and vehicle depot to ferry materials by landing craft, air cushions to the beach.

Five LCACs traveled back and forth from the ships to the beach carrying vehicles and supplies supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

LCACs are vitally important in order to access places where normal vehicles cannot in a quick manner under challenging conditions.

“These ships are put out in strategic places for countries that don’t have the response time that countries [like ours] do, [places] that are usually getting hit by hurricanes,” said 1st Lt. Nick Boling, the landing force support party operations officer for Landing Support Company, 1st Transportation Support Battalion.

On shore, Marines also established a tactical water purification system to provide up to 1500 gallons of clean water every hour, which would be used in a real world emergency.

The system plays an important role in the operation, as a single person uses approximately 20 gallons of water per day for hydration, hygiene and sanitation.

“We’re providing water for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations during [the exercise],” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aaron Alcorn, the utilities officer for Marine Wing Support Squadron 373. “It can purify just about any type of water, fresh water, brackish water, even sea water like we’re doing here. It takes out all of the impurities and solutes to make potable water.”

Throughout the exercise, Marines also erected two multi-purpose buildings (SWA Huts) in order to shelter and support the fictional local population, whose home were destroyed when two hurricanes hit the region, as part of the PH15 scenario.

“In a humanitarian aid case, we as combat engineers would provide billeting, shelter or medical facilities if necessary in case a hurricane hit or any other disaster occurred,” said 2nd Lt. Morgan Celaya, the platoon commander for Combat Engineer Platoon, MWSS-373.

During the culminating days of Pacific Horizon, a group of congressional staffers and members of the local media visited the training area to get a better understanding of the Navy-Marine Corps team amphibious capabilities.

The emphasis of the operation was to demonstrate to the public that while the Navy and Marine Corps excel in staging large-scale assaults on areas where the sea meets the land, they can also be used in smaller, brigade-level operations to provide extremely effective HA/DR.

Other commands and units taking part include Naval Beach Group (NGB) 1, Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1, Beach Master Unit (BMU) 1, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 1, ACU-5, Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 373, Combat Logistics Regiment (CLR) 1 , and 1st Battalion, 4th Marines (1/4).

Exercises like Pacific Horizon provide realistic, relevant and efficient training for the Navy and Marine Corps in order to respond effectively to a real-world crisis.

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