VOLL, Norway -- When picturing today’s Marines deployed, the immediate picture painted is often of Marines in inhospitable climates facing extreme heat with the bare essentials, to include only Meals, Ready-to-Eat for food and access to creature comforts being hours away and extremely limited. During Exercise Trident Juncture 18 that picture shifts a little. The climate is cold and wet. And while the creature comforts—like energy drinks and coffee creamer—may not be hours away, they are limited and when they run out, they can remain so for days. However, these creature comforts can still be brought to the Marines in Norway by the Marine Corps Community Services Marines.
Exercise Trident Juncture 18 is the largest NATO exercise since 2002 and involves 50,000 service members from 31 NATO Allied and partner nations. Approximately 7,500 of those service members are U.S. Marines which deployed in the early winter months to train alongside NATO Allies and partners in a cold-weather environment. Among the many deployed Marines, four of those Marines brought and staffed a mobile Marine Corps Exchange to the Marines in Voll, Norway.
The Marines brought two cargo containers full of uniform items, hygiene products, and a variety of foods and drinks to sell to the Marines of 2nd Marine Division and Combat Logistics Battalion 2. Sgt. Xavier Barton, with 2nd Marine Logistics Group-Forward, relied heavily on the 2nd MLG community when bringing the capability to the fight.
“When it comes to the MCX we definitely get a lot of support,” said Barton. “Moving all the containers around and organizing all the merchandise can be really difficult. We get a lot of help from motor transportation and everybody else.”
For many Marines, deploying brings unique challenges to their day-to-day life, and in the midst of that the mobile MCX can help boost morale.
“Being in the field, life can get pretty hard,” said Barton. “A lot of people miss home and family, so the smallest things can really impact a Marine’s day. I didn’t really understand that until I deployed for the first time, and a Marine came in and when he saw we had cold energy drinks, he told us that we had just made his day.”
For the many Marines that stopped by the MCX, the items sold there made their deployment to Norway remind them of a little of the comforts available at home. Cpl. Scarlet Sharp, with 2nd MLG-Forward said she was really relieved when the MCX opened.
“It was great to know I could go somewhere to buy extra stuff if I ran out or forgot something,” she said.
While the mobile MCX may seem a small addition to a camp that houses both 2nd MARDIV and CLB-2, the difference it has made is evident in the signs of satisfaction on the Marines’ faces as they leave the MCX tent with a new toothbrush, their favorite snack food, or even a new Trident Juncture 18 sweatshirt.