CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines and Sailors assigned to II Marine Expeditionary Force worked alongside their Norwegian counterparts Sept. 23-24, to offload and stage the first shipment of Marine Corps vehicles and equipment for NATO’s upcoming exercise, Trident Juncture, in Norway.
The Arrival and Assembly Operations Group, II MEF’s element responsible for planning the logistics of all personnel and gear arriving in Norway, had the challenge of organizing the operation short-handed as many of the Marines who were supposed to conduct the offload were stuck in North Carolina waiting out a hurricane.
Adding to this friction, while Marines and Sailors of II MEF were assisting with hurricane recovery efforts stateside, a significant storm was pounding Norway with high winds that caused power outages for more than 50, 000 households, fallen trees, roof damages, and impassable roads struck Norway days before the off-load took place.
However, the partnered U.S.-Norwegian force wouldn’t let a few storms stop them from accomplishing their mission of unloading nearly 200 military vehicles and 78 containers, which was shipped from Wilmington, North Carolina, two weeks ago.
Due to conditions caused by Hurricane Florence, we had to pull people and resources from our entire combined-joint-interagency team at our base to complete the offload, said Col. Haakon Waroe, of the Norwegian Army who serves as the base commander at Joint Base Vaernes, a primary location where II MEF will operate during Trident Juncture.
The Norwegian Army’s Reception Staging and Onward Movement Battalion, Homeguard-12, and Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization - Marine Expeditionary Brigade, worked through extreme conditions with help from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, both of the 2nd Marine Division, to get the job done. Support was also provided by the U.S. Army’s 51st Truck Company, and Norwegian National Police, Port, and Road Authorities
“Although the ship pulled in and was not ready for discharge as originally planned due to the effects of an extreme weather system, the offload was accomplished as planned in two days,” said Maj. Valerie Schwindt the operations officer for II MEF’s Arrival and Assembly Operations Group. “Rapid planning was used to formulate new plans for the offload, due to the disruption of personnel deployment from Hurricane Florence back in Camp Lejeune, and identify resources [personnel] needed to execute [in Norway].”
The Marines provided light armored vehicle operators to offload the LAVs from the ship and for follow on movements for cleaning, loading and unloading from tractor trailers during transport to Frigaard, another location where Marines will be based during the exercise.
“Road movement and convoys with heavy military vehicles is always a challenge. Norwegian roads are different from I-95. However, most movements (so far) occurred without serious incidents. And that is success in my world,” said Waroe.
Despite the fact that the units involved in the operation have never worked together before, they still managed to get the mission accomplished as planned.
“Seven different organizations, which had not worked together before, came together on a truncated timeline and conducted a successful [off-load] operation,” Schwindt said. “Communication between multiple entities and with changes to the plan, while challenging, was ultimately successful. The units were extremely professional and did an exceptional job.”
Trident Juncture, is scheduled to take place in October and will have approximately 40,000 participants from 30 countries. It is one of the largest NATO exercises led by Norway aimed to develop interoperability and operational readiness between partner nations in extreme cold-weather environment.
II MEF will participate in the exercise throughout the months of October and November.