I MEF conducts MPF offload

17 Jan 2003 | Sgt. Colin Wyers

Ships from the Maritime Prepositioning Force were offloaded in support of the I Marine Expeditionary Force Jan. 17 at a port in Kuwait.

The equipment and supplies from the ships were sent to Marine forces attached to the U.S. Central Command.

"The Department of Defense is in the process of repositioning some of its equipment to support the President's global war on terrorism," said Lt. Col. Anthony Ardovino, I Marine Expeditionary Force logistics operation officer, 42, from Birmingham, Ala.  "The Marines of I Marine Expeditionary Force are part of that repositioning effort."

The ships, controlled by the Navy for the Marine Corps, are positioned around the world in order to quickly supply expeditionary units.

"A maritime prepositioning squadron is typically from five to six ships," said Ardovino.  "There are three of these squadrons throughout the world - one in Diego Garcia, one in Guam, and one in the Mediterranean-Eastern Atlantic region."
The ships carry a wide variety of supplies to support forward-deployed units.

"The equipment aboard a maritime prepositioning squadron typically supports a Marine Expeditionary Brigade of about 17,000 Marines and sailors for around 30 days," said Ardovino.  "These ships carry the full range of equipment, from your typical humvee to M1A1 tanks, amphibious track vehicles and artillery pieces."

Once the ships arrive, Marines and sailors go to work offloading the contents.

"An offload itself is really straightforward," said Ardovino.  "It involves bringing in the ship, offloading the equipment, and linking the equipment up with the Marines designated to fall in on that equipment and conduct operations."

Carrying out much of the effort were landing support specialists - called red patchers because of the patches on their uniform trousers and covers, originally worn to distinguish them from infantrymen on the beachheads of World War II.  Marines and sailors from Camp Commando, Kuwait were called on to support the operation.

"During the offload process, we assisted the red patchers with moving various types of vehicles off the ships that were in port," said Sgt. Austin Grogan, I MEF G-3 Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System operator, 25, from Hunnington Beach, Calif.
After being offloaded, some of the equipment made its way to Camp Commando to support the command element.

"Transportation is needed," said Grogan.  "We also offloaded forklifts, and bulldozers - you need that when you're expanding a base, when you're digging in, or when you need to move equipment."