ABOARD USS IWO JIMA, Atlantic Ocean --
Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Continuing Promise embarked the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima July 14-15 for a deployment to the U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility in support of Operation Continuing Promise 2010.
The Special-Purpose MAGTF is made up of Marines from Marine Air Control Squadron 2, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774, from Norfolk, Va.; and Combat Logistics Regiment 25 and Company A, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, both from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Marines from the Special-Purpose MAGTF were transported from shore to ship via CH-46E “Sea Knight” helicopters, landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles.
“It’s a very comforting to know all our Marines and Sailors are safely embarked with all of our AAVs, helicopters and vehicles,” said Lt. Col. Chris S. Richie, the commanding officer of the Continuing Promise 2010 Special-Purpose MAGTF.
Aside from the Marine Corps’ roles in supporting Continuing Promise 2010 with its air, ground and logistics capabilities, Marines are scheduled to conduct subject-matter-expert exchanges, humanitarian relief efforts and community relations while in several countries.
“It’s an opportunity for us to demonstrate to our partner nations in Latin America and the Caribbean what America can do … especially what Marines and Sailors are capable of doing with a MAGTF,” said Richie.
The Special-Purpose MAGTF and USS Iwo Jima are logistically prepared for a hurricane or tropical storm to occur during their deployment. The ship is stocked with pallets of food, medical supplies, wheelchairs, X-ray machines, toys and more to be donated to specific countries upon arrival.
“The most relevant aspect of this MAGTF is that we’re postured to respond in the event of a crisis,” said Richie. “If a hurricane were to hit, this MAGTF combined with the robust medical, engineering and communications capabilities of the Continuing Promise team would be the first responder to roll in to help save lives and reduce human suffering.”
“We are absolutely organized, trained and equipped with a relevant capability,” Richie added. “You hope and pray that you would not have to use it for a crisis, but if a crisis hits we know we’re going to make a difference.”
For many Marines and Sailors it is their first time being aboard ship at sea, said Richie. As time progresses throughout the deployment, Marines and Sailors will be able to build a strong working relationship and form what the Navy and Marine Corps refer to as the blue/green team.
“We’ve got four months ahead of us and there will be challenges,” said Richie. “It’s going to be an exciting opportunity for all, and four months later we’re going to look back and know we made a difference.”