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Photo Information

U.S. Marines palletize gear during an Alert Contingency Marine Air Ground Task Force drill Oct. 18, 2017 on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan. Marines and Sailors palletized their gear, conducted weigh-ins and prepared to deploy within four hours of the first alert. The ACM must be prepared to respond within 24 hours to crises throughout the Asian pacific region to mitigate crises, protect U.S. citizens and territories or counter threats to U.S. national interests as needed. The Marines are embarkation specialists with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger)

Photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger

Marines gear up during a rapid response drill

3 Nov 2017 | Lance Cpl. Jasmine Price 3rd Marine Division

The Great East Japan Earthquake, which happened in March 2011, was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan. The earthquake triggered a tsunami and the disaster resulted in the death of more than 15,800 people.

Marines with 3rd Marine Division were participating in exercise Balikatan 2011 when the Alert Contingency Marine Air-Ground Task Force was activated to deploy manpower, assets and equipment to help the people of Japan in support of Operation Tomodachi.

The purpose of an ACM is to help reduce response time to any crisis in the region, from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions to combat operations. 3rd Marine Division held a drill here, October 17, 2017, to help prepare participants of the ACM.

One of the participants, who was part of the ACM team during Operation Tomodachi, said these drills are important because it mainly focuses on allowing the Marines and Sailors to witness how an actual ACM is conducted.

“The drills are put in place to make sure that our gear is ready to go when an ACM is activated,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Klever Novillo, the Division logistics chief at 3rd Marine Division. “It allows me to know who I need to contact or who’s going to contact me, and also know how much time I have to be at a certain location.”

Because there weren’t any drills conducted before the disaster, Novillo gives credit to the success of the operation on its timing.

“We just got back from an exercise and our gear was ready to go,” said Novillo. “If the timing was different, then there may have been more issues that day than there was.”

ACM drills are in place to maintain the capability to rapidly deploy any military assistance to asses situations, and focus on logistical properties for the mission.

“When we deploy it has to deal with space and weight on that aircraft, and knowing this before the mission eliminates guessing,” said Novillo. “When it is time to execute, we are way ahead of the plan.”