Marine Corps letter to the Guam community

by Marine Corps Activity Guam
Stripes Guam

By now you may have heard that a small force of Marines and Sailors are scheduled to conduct a training exercise in Guam later this month. As the Officer in Charge of the Marines permanently stationed on Guam, I would like to explain to you what we have in mind and why your community is so important to us.

The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the fighting force for the Japan-based Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, soon to deploy in the Asia-Pacific region. Typically, a MEU's mission is to serve as a sea-based quick-reaction  force, ready to respond to any crisis that occurs in its area of operations.

Many of the Marines you may see in the coming weeks have served all over the world.  But, we also have new Marines preparing to make their first deployment. Their lives and the success of potential future missions depend on the training that they accomplish in this community.

Months prior to deployment, a MEU begins intensive training for a multitude of different missions that it must be ready to execute at any time. They conduct much of that training at their home bases in Okinawa and aboard Navy ships at sea.  However, to adequately prepare to operate in unfamiliar environments, they seek areas like Guam that offer unique training opportunities with which they are not accustomed.

Marines are trained to fight in every clime and place. Desert training is typically conducted in the deserts of California and Arizona. Cold weather training is often conducted in the mountains of California and Norway while jungle warfare training may be conducted in Panama, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Training in an urban environment, though, is one of the most challenging environments that we as Marines are likely to face. Maneuvering in congested areas, identifying threats lurking in windows and around street corners, discerning threats among the population are just a few of the challenges that Marines face in an urban setting.

Our aim in Guam is to expose these Marines to realistic scenarios and stresses unique to urban environments, thereby increasing their overall proficiency and readiness. Operating in Guam provides them with realistic conditions they may not be able to replicate aboard their home bases.

The exercise runs from Jan. 23 to Feb. 4. While most of the activity will take place aboard the Naval and Air Force bases, residents of the island may see Marines and Sailors periodically throughout the exercise and are likely to notice increased military activities Jan. 30, Feb. 2 and 3.

We have coordinated this exercise through the appropriate on-island agencies and village officials including the Guam Police Department, Guam Fire Department, Guam Homeland Security & Office of Civil Defense, and Village Mayors to ensure the safety and awareness of residents and to minimize any impact in the community.

We understand that our presence may briefly raise the noise level in some villages and we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding. We hope you will bear with us as we complete this critical training exercise.

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