Okinawa-based marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11 completed their regularly-scheduled deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region aboard the ships of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group.
The marines returned to White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, on September 19.
Embarked aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Green Bay (LPD 20), and USS Ashland (LSD 48), the 31st MEU departed White Beach for the waters off the east coast of Australia, June 8, 2017.
During the deployment, the 31st MEU conducted Talisman Saber, a U.S.-Australian bilateral exercise held every two years. Talisman Saber gave marines and sailors the opportunity to work alongside the Australian Defence Force and solidify the long-lasting alliance between the two nations.
“Working with our allies and partners has been extremely valuable,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “Talisman Saber offered a unique opportunity to increase our interoperability with the Australians.”
The 31st MEU conducted a variety of amphibious operations during the exercise, including a beach assault, multiple amphibious raids, simulated noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) and humanitarian assistance-disaster relief (HADR) missions – all launched from the sea requiring the coordinated work of the more than 2,200 marines and sailors that comprise the command.
The 31st MEU and PHIRBON 11 also conducted a continuous series of unit-level training and exercises, including MEU exercise, amphibious integration training, and certification exercise.
After CERTEX, the USS Ashland (LSD 48) sailed to Guam for scheduled maintenance. The 31st MEU made use of the training opportunities and facilities available, including a variety of live-fire ranges, military operations in urbanized terrain facilities and joint training with the US Army.
While not participating in exercises or training, the marines and sailors of the BHR ESG took the opportunity to visit cities in Guam and Australia, giving the marines and sailors time to relax and build relationships in the local communities. The BHR ESG visited Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, and Tumon in Guam. During port calls, the U.S. Department of State organized community relations events to allow the marines and sailors of the BHR ESG to engage with local schools and groups.