USS ESSEX AT SEA - The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU), embarked aboard the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ESX ARG) is scheduled to hold a humanitarian assistance disaster relief (HADR) and non-evacuation operations (NEO) certification exercise in Okinawa, Japan Sept. 27 – Oct. 5.

The exercise will meet the units’ annual training requirements and provide the ESX ARG an opportunity to conduct the training necessary to become proficient and certified in humanitarian assistance disaster relief and non-evacuation operations.

“This HADR-NEO exercise will help prepare the MEU for further training in real-world scenarios,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, 31st MEU commanding officer. “The training will help ensure we are ready as a team when called upon down the road.”

The ESX ARG includes the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), and the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). Assigned to the ARG is the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) consisting of more than 2,200 Marines in ground, command, air and combat support elements that allow the ESX ARG to conduct amphibious operations from the sea and project power ashore. The 31st MEU provides a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations in the Asia-Pacific area.

Always ready to respond, the 31st MEU is also prepared to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief when directed. The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the nation’s force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Together, the three ships and 31st MEU fall under Commander, Amphibious Squadron (CPR 11) Eleven.

Upon completion of this exercise, the Essex ARG will continue its deployment in the Western Pacific as a part of the permanently forward-deployed ESX ARG.