It wouldn’t be January if one of my Marines didn’t find someway to get the entire battalion put on lock-down. No drinking. No civilian attire. No fun.
But here’s the thing: beginning the day after the restrictions, we began Combat Logistics Battalion Exercise (CLB-EX). From Monday until Friday, the entire battalion picked up their packs and moved into two-man tents at Kin Blue Beach.
Kin Blue is the hidden gem of Camp Hansen and Okinawa’s Central Training Area. Most of the major assault exercises take place on its sandy shores, and it is an outstanding terrain model for beach to jungle assault. But it is also just beautiful out there: the tropical blue green sea, the gentle lapping of the waves from the bay, the sunrises. It is like a Corona commercial…but without the beer, and with a lot more work.
In rows of tents, we bivouacked for the week (look it up, it’s a real word). The food service guys set up kitchens; the engineers desalinated and purified water. The Marines practiced for Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (when the ambassador looks out his window, realizes that it’s time to get the heck out, and calls the Marines), theoretical Humanitarian Assistance missions, and Nightingale missions (where we send more doctors and corpsmen to the site of mass-casualty to run real life Grey’s Anatomy scenarios). Bonus: on the Nightingale, I got to ride in a CH-53 Heavy Lift Helicopter!
The Marines and Sailors performed astonishingly well. And they did it all while fending off our base camp from enemy combatants (other Marines in different uniforms), keeping themselves dry (we were on Okinawa, after all), and the regular craziness that is daily life in the Marine Corps.
Honestly, I hope that we don’t find ourselves doing any of these missions in the coming year that I will be with CLB; we should find ourselves in a world where this kind of stuff is unnecessary except for training. But if it should happen, we’re ready. I’m ready. Let’s do it.