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Practice makes performance: MLG Marines train for large scale deployment

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - What would it be like if more than 7,000 United States Marines, Sailors, and their equipment had to deploy across the ocean all at the same time? How would they do it? Strategic Mobility Exercise (STRATMOBEX) is a training exercise conducted by the 1st Marine Logistics Group in order to maintain readiness and sharpen skills needed to rapidly deploy personnel and equipment.

STRATMOBEX was conducted from March 9-12, 2017, on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and March Air Force Reserve Base, Calif. The goal of this exercise was to evaluate the unit’s ability to pack and stage equipment within a specific timeline, identify lift and transportation requirements, and prepare cargo and personnel for transportation.

“We are trying to see exactly what the deployment capability is for the MLG,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel Melgoza, the embark chief for Headquarters Regiment, 1st MLG. “If we were to get the call that we were actually getting deployed, this will give us an idea of how good we would look. We want to see the unit’s overall capability to see how well the deployment process would go.”

The units involved in STRATMOBEX from Camp Pendleton were Combat Logistics Regiment 15, CLR-1, Headquarters Regiment, 1st Medical Battalion, and 7th Engineer Support Battalion. Also involved were Combat Logistics Battalion 26 from the 2nd MLG, and 50th Aerial Port Squadron from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing.

“We get with each of the units involved, find out what gear they need in order to conduct operations abroad, and then go through the process of figuring out how exactly we can effectively get it there utilizing the Air Force assets,” said Melgoza, a native of Dallas. “We see how to get there most efficiently and effectively and see what shortfalls or issues we would run into and fix them here.”

Training exercises like STRATMOBEX benefit the 1st MLG by allowing the Marines to encounter challenging situations and make corrections during training instead of an actual deployment scenario.

“This lets us know if we need to fix anything and what we’re doing right,” said Melgoza. “So therefore, if it actually does come down to it where we do get deployed then we have an idea of what we have to work with.”

Marines and Airmen worked in together while loading the equipment into the aircraft.

“The cohesion between Marines and Airmen was great,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Barrett Von Esch, the load team chief for 50th APS. “Both sides worked really well, and were professional. We were able to get on the same page quickly and execute effectively. There was a lot of eagerness to learn.”

If equipment was loaded in an aircraft improperly, the aircraft or equipment could be damaged or there could be problems in flight which could harm mission readiness.

“The Air Force is helping out by letting us utilize their assets,” said Melgoza. “Anytime the Marine Corps uses Air Force aircraft the Air Force is going to be a part of it to make sure that it’s being done correctly so we don’t damage the aircraft and it’s loaded efficiently.”

Moving equipment can be a daunting task, but with the help of the Air Force the Marines were able to accomplish their mission successfully.

“The Marines have done very well,” said Melgoza. “This whole process has gone a lot smoother than what I anticipated, and if it comes down to it and we do have to deploy I think we would do a very good job of it.”