TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Brigade Headquarters Group of 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade embarked July 22 to begin setup for Large Scale Exercise 2014 aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
LSE-14 is a bilateral training exercise between the U.S. and Canada which includes live, simulated, and constructive operations to enhance both countries’ ability to activate and deploy a Marine Air Ground Task Force with speed and effectiveness in support of the full range of military operations as required by combatant commanders.
“The purpose of BHG is to provide services to the command element to allow them to do their jobs,” said Maj. Phillip Estrella, the executive officer of BHG.
Marines from BHG were among the first on site for the exercise. After a full month of planning, they arrived about two weeks before the official start of the exercise, Aug. 8, to begin setting up tents, medical facilities, and restrooms.
“Everything that is day to day or common sense, there is someone behind that who has to coordinate it and make it happen,” said 1st Lt. Abigael Blank, the camp commandant for Camp Francis, which houses the Command Operations Center for LSE-14.
The BHG provides resources that make the desert environment of the combat center survivable and help the Marines be more productive by providing a wide range of services from external security to food for the Marines.
“We make sure everything is seamless,” said Blank.
Portions of the exercise depend completely on computers within the COC. The BHG ensures that the generators powering those essential systems always have fuel, explained Blank.
BHG is also responsible for implementing new insulation in some of the tents at LSE-14. Estrella explained the new insulation is being observed and tested by Headquarters Marine Corps.
“We get to test out the (Expeditionary Energy Office) radiant barriers that help make the air conditioning more efficient,” said Blank.
Blank added that one of the greatest challenges the BHG faced while setting up for the exercise was the heat.
“One of the first things we did was establish medical,” said Blank. “We didn’t want to push the Marines too hard so we had multiple measures to make sure they didn’t go down.”
Medical personnel were embedded with the Marines as they worked and high priority was placed on making sure everyone had access to water, ice, and cooling tents.
The BHG established a system that will allow their support to continue even if portions of the staff were removed to simulate combat casualties. They arranged schedules for food, restroom maintenance, fueling and other essential tasks.
“We made sure that everyone knows at the lowest level what we need to do,” said Blank.
The services provided by BHG and the experiences its Marines gain by participating in LSE-14 prepare them to have boots on the ground with the efficiency that makes the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade America’s premier crisis response force.