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Flares from a C-130 Hercules transportation aircraft illuminate the landing zone for an incoming CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter during a fire support coordination exercise that kicked off Blue Chromite 2016, at Okinawa, Japan, today. Blue Chromite is large-scale air-ground training exercise that builds upon the Marine Corps’ sea-borne, rapid-reaction capabilities while maintaining the Corps’ strategic presence in the Pacific. The principle units involved in the ongoing exercise are 3rd Marine Division, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and 3rd Marine Logistics Group, all subordinate commands of III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Photo by Courtesy Photo

Premier Marine Corps amphibious, aerial exercise underway in Okinawa

22 Oct 2015 | Cpl. Tyler Giguere and Staff Sgt. Jesse Stence 3rd Marine Division

Blue Chromite 16, a large-scale yet economic training exercise, is now fully underway as Marines and Sailors here wrap up a fire support coordination exercise.

The fire support exercise, which took place on a small island near Okinawa, involves air and ground elements within III Marine Expeditionary Force, and is just one training event within Blue Chromite. The training is a comprehensive exercise that cuts travel costs by capitalizing on training resources organic to Okinawa.

Blue Chromite builds upon the Marine Corps’ sea-borne, rapid-reaction capabilities while maintaining the Corps’ strategic presence in the Pacific. In addition to the fire support exercise, Blue Chromite includes two amphibious landings, a regimental air assault, a mass casualty evacuation drill, and unit-level training events that test expeditionary warfighting capabilities within III MEF.

“Blue Chromite is a representation of how the Marine Corps can be used operationally in the Asia-Pacific Region,” said Lt. Col. Justin J. Anderson, the operations officer for the organization conducting the exercise, 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “Organized as a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force operating from forward deployed naval forces, we are small enough to be lightning fast and large enough to operate independently. This is truly a MAGTF operation with an amphibious flare.”

The central location of Blue Chromite provides high-level training to participating units without sacrificing their ability to rapidly respond to operations throughout the Pacific.

“In Okinawa, we are forward-deployed only 900 miles from Seoul, Manilla, and Tokyo,” said Anderson. “Blue Chromite allows us to stay close and ready to support any crisis our partners may encounter and still conduct high-level training that is comparable to anything stateside. Units deployed to Okinawa return to the states more operationally ready than when they arrived.”

The exercise also supports Corps-wide readiness by enhancing the training opportunities of elements augmenting III MEF as part of the unit deployment program.

During the first event of Blue Chromite, the fire support coordination exercises, Marines were able to use an emitter team to simulate enemy surface-to-air missile systems. The two-man team from Pacific Missile Range Facility, a Hawaiian naval base, was one of the outside resources being used to create low-cost, realistic training during Blue Chromite.

“Blue Chromite is the only amphibious training that 3rd Marine Division does in Okinawa, which is made possible by our relationship with our Navy partners at (Combined Task Force 76),” said Anderson. “Their commitment to improving Blue-Green training exponentially increases our ability to deploy effectively from forward-deployed naval forces in the region.”

For Blue Chromite, the participating units within III MEF include elements of III MEF Headquarters Group; 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division; 3rd Marines, 3rd MarDiv; 12th Marines, 3rd MarDiv; and Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

Augmenting units include 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd MarDiv, II MEF; and personnel from the missile range facility.