We have forces in Darwin
[Australia]. Those rotations continue. The long-term plan [is] to grow
there to about 2,500 total [Marines].
So far, in the first couple of rotations,
it’s been great working with
Australians in Darwin.
The forces back here, if they are
not on one of those rotations or a
unit deployment program to the
Pacific, then we are doing the second priority from the commandant, which is make sure we are
prepared as the expeditionary
What exercises planned this
year will help you work
toward that priority, keeping
the MEF ready and expeditionary?
BERGER: There’s a couple of exercises that are overseas and some
that are here. One that is here and
involves Third Fleet and Expeditionary Strike Group 3 is Dawn
Blitz. That is a great exercise for us
and the Navy. It’s got more participation from more and different countries than in the
previous [exercises]. We started Dawn Blitz in 2010. It
grows each time, and this time Mexico is participating,
and they are bringing ships and aviation, and so is
Japan. Japan participated last time as well.
[It] allows us not just to build the partnerships like the
personal relationships and the unit-to-unit relationships,
but it also helps on our readiness. We are going to design
these exercises always so it’s not just a show, it’s not a
demonstration. It’s actually practicing what you are supposed to do. It pushes us. It allows us to push ourselves
and work with other countries, which is what it’s all about.
[Dawn Blitz] is the first couple of weeks in September.
The Marine Corps is looking at alternative platforms, looking at ways to get more Marines out
to sea. How will these factor, if at all, into your
BERGER: There will be some planned during Dawn Blitz,
and a T-AVB [Aviation Logistics Support (Roll-on/Roll-
off) Container Ship] we’ll use during Dawn Blitz. It’s real-
ly pretty clear from the commandant and the CNO [chief
of naval operations] on down that we have a great capa-
bility, and we have to learn how to use it to complement
what we have in terms of amphib ships now. We don’t
look at them as a substitute, but they sure can augment
or complement like an amphibious ready group, and
that’s where we are going to practice.
You know how packed they [amphibs] are when we
deploy. If you have, for example, a [mobile landing
platform] like MLP 2, and it has both the ability to ballast down and you can float connectors on and off of it,
and you can land aircraft and take off from it, if you are
a commander of a MEU/ARG or any kind of sea-based
force, now you have everything from a portable parking lot to a garage to a place where you can reconfigure
loads. You can free up deck space and well deck space
and have like a lily pad, an intermediate base that you
can switch on and off of.
We have to learn how to do that, and we have to
learn where we can position these where that’s going to
be acceptable, because you’re not going to drive it to
the same place where you would an LPD 17 [amphibi-ous transport dock] or a ship like that. But, man, what
a great extra capability. Now, it’s just a really tight fit on
those ships and to reconfigure is tough.
In exercises from Dawn Blitz forward, in the Pacific
Rim and exercises next year, we will use them, we will
learn a lot about them, and I think you’ll see them
parked over the horizon as a kind of place to move aircraft and equipment and people on and off of our
amphib ships into shore.
LtGen David H. Berger, right, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary
Force, speaks with 1stLt Bernardo Reynoso, communication officer with 1st
Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, while visiting a training site during an
Integrated Training Exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
Twentynine Palms, Calif., Aug. 6.