FORT DEVENS, Mass. --
Task Force Northeast and subordinate command service members continued providing expeditionary capabilities to support local, state, and federal agencies as part of the Department of Defense’s whole-of-nation response to the COVID-19 pandemic led by U.S. Northern Command.
One of five regional military task forces across the country currently working in close coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, TF Northeast coordinates USNORTHCOM-assigned support in the states and territories of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Vermont. This support includes bolstering local medical capabilities with U.S. Army Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces and a U.S. Navy Expeditionary Medical Facility, coordinating logistics and medical supply distribution and facilitating command and control of Title 10 forces throughout the region.
The task force is an integral part of the approximately 8,000 active duty and reserve component service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force in the U.S. Army North-led Joint Force Land Component Command. The JFLCC is assisting state and local governments across the continental United States in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supporting the individual requirements of federal, state, and local organizations, coupled with the unique circumstance of working with an extensive list of non-Department of Defense agencies, highlights the unpredictable nature of today’s operational environment.
“At the beginning of this month, none of us expected to be in the northeast United States serving as part of Northern Command’s support to the national response combatting this pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Neary, commanding general, TF Northeast and II Marine Expeditionary Force deputy commanding general. “Our command element from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines supporting our area of operations, quickly deployed to the region and demonstrated the DoD’s ability to rapidly respond to emerging requirements.”
For 2nd MEB, Task Force Northeast’s command element, the official direction to deploy occurred April 6. Within 48 hours, an advanced party arrived at the 25th Marine Regiment command post in Fort Devens, Mass., to facilitate the deployment and employment of the headquarters April 10. In less than 96 hours, with the support of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and the 25th Marine Regiment, the Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, established a fully operational command element in Massachusetts to synchronize joint actions and support in the region.
“The ability of 2d MEB to rapidly plan, deploy, and operate in support of FEMA within such a compressed timeframe showcases the adaptability and effectiveness of 2nd MEB and the Marine Corps as warfighting organizations,” said Col. Garrett L. Benson, assistant chief of staff for operations, TF Northeast and 2nd MEB. “While our support as Task Force Northeast is not a traditional mission for the MEB, our previous training events focused on rapid, worldwide deployment and facilitated the staff’s ability to quickly assume our role in the national fight against COVID-19.”
The task force’s response highlights only a portion of continued readiness across the DoD. While regulations instituted to limit the spread of the virus influence daily operations, the services continue to employ innovative solutions to stay prepared.
“Our ability to quickly deploy in support of the national approach to fight this pandemic demonstrates that the Marine Corps remains at the ready,” said Neary. “We continue to implement protection measures across the force. Mission First, Humans Always.”