Republic of Korea Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeong Hyung-Goo watches a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey land on the flight deck of the Republic of Korea ship Dokdo (LPH 6111), at sea, March 26, 2015. http://www.31stmeu.marines.mil/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2001045778
7 April 2016 - The Center for Adaptation and Innovation at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series, hosted Colonel Dasmalchi, commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). This MEU was deployed from Fall 2014 to Spring 2016, and took part in multiple exercises throughout the Asia-Pacific region in support of Pacific Command (PACOM) requirements.
The 31st MEU is a forward deployed, Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), capable of rapidly executing amphibious operations, designated maritime contingency operations, expeditionary support to other operations, and crisis response, which includes enabling the introduction of follow-on-forces. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU, and is the only MEU that maintains a small boat company. This is a unique capability, yet it also a capability tradeoff. While the 31st MEU is the only MEU with a small boat company, its lacks other capabilities such as tanks.
The 31st MEU uses a 6 month “Tight Turn” Deployment Operational Cycle, which starts when the unit deployment battalion teams arrives in mid-May. The 31st MEU is composed of 2,200 Marines and Sailors, of which 68 are permanent personnel in the command element. During its deployment cycle, the 31st MEU executed several amphibious and expeditionary operations to include the following:
• 23- 27 Feb 2015: Executed Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) Event Ivo Sabah in Malaysia. This event was executed with MARFORPAC, and accomplished a combined arms-training operation. A live-fire demonstration was also executed.
• 26 March 2015: The 31st MEU conducted MV-22 Operations aboard a Republic of Korea LPH 61111. This was the first time that an Osprey has landed on a Republic of Korea amphibious assault ship.
• 12-18 July 2015: Exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia was conducted in support of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), and was a partnership exercise to further naval integration with our Australian allies.
• 8-22 Aug 2015: Conducted Saipan DSCA Relief Efforts. The 31st MEU provided distribution support and water production for the lead civil response agency to the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Island IOT facilitate Typhoon Soudelor (13W) recovery efforts. Hundreds of FEMA supplies and 140 pallets of FEMA food and water were distributed, and a tactical water purification system was used to distribute 366,200 gallons of drinking water.
• 25-29 Oct 2015: Participated in a Naval Infantry/Maritime Security Subject Matter Expert Exchange with 147 Brigade Vietnamese People’s Navy, Naval Infantry IOT set conditions for future III MEF/MARFORPAC Theater Security Cooperation exercises.
Other operations included Presidential Support Missions, Korean Marine Exchange Program 15, TSC Bali, TSC Malaysia, TSC New Zealand, TSX New Caledonia, and Exercise Cobra Gold 15 & 16.
In their next deployment, the 31st MEU will combine a Special Operations Force Liaison Element (SOFLE) element, and in the future when the USS America is sent forward F-35s will deploy with the 31st MEU.