In the period after deployment but before predeployment training, a Marine Expeditionary Unit typically sends Marines to advanced schools, catches up on annual qualifications or rebuilds their offices with new personnel. The 22nd MEU is taking their dwell time a step further.
With roughly a year before predeployment training begins, the Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU took advantage of the extended dwell time to not only help prepare Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa for their upcoming deployment, but to also get ready for their own deployment.
“We have been afforded the great opportunity to reset in some regards,” said Capt. Greg Duesterhaus, supply officer for the 22nd MEU and a Vienna, Va. native. According to Duesterhaus, the section leaders took the time to identify the needs and wants of their respective areas, reviewed lessons learned from previous deployments and provided a list of gear, software and training that will increase MEU efficiency and credibility.
Upgrading this early will give the Marines more experience with the equipment they will use on deployment and mitigate errors during predeployment training.
“If we would have gotten all of this stuff right before we deployed, we would be learning painful lessons in front of everyone, vice in a training or garrison environment,” said Capt. John Schreiner, assistant communications officer for the 22nd MEU and a Sandusky, Ohio native. Schreiner added that working with the changes now will allow Marines to get ahead of the power curve and save the Marine Corps time and money.
Keeping up to date with equipment, software and training is not the only benefit of this endeavor. Upgrading to more efficient, compact equipment will reduce the MEU’s footprint on ship and in the field. The light strike vehicle, for example, is an all-terrain vehicle that was recently purchased for missions that need quick mobility. It also provides a smaller footprint than the traditional Humvee.
“The light strike vehicle takes up about 25 to 30 percent less space than a Humvee,” said Duesterhaus. “It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re embarking them in a well deck of a ship, you now have additional space for other equipment.”
Reducing the footprint, procuring more efficient equipment and staying ahead of the power curve before predeployment training will improve the overall readiness of the MEU.
“The hallmark (of the MEU) in the past has been to be light, to get in and get out,” said Duesterhaus. He added that the MEU took advantage of a rare opportunity to be better prepared to composite and deploy forward to answer the Nation’s call as America’s number one force in readiness.
Article by Sgt Amber Blanchard, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit