By Courtesy Story, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands — Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in Saipan today to assist with typhoon recovery efforts after the island was hit by a typhoon.
Approximately 600 Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU, aboard the USS Ashland (LSD 48) of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver much needed relief supplies after the island was devastated by Typhoon Soudelor Aug. 2-3.
The MEU has also staged four MV-22B Ospreys in nearby Guam. The aircraft will be on standby to provide aerial support for recovery efforts if needed.
The 31st MEU was in the vicinity of the Mariana Islands for training as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to the Asia-Pacific region. The Marines and sailors were rerouted with orders to assist recovery operations Aug. 5.
“We will work closely with FEMA to bring relief to the people of Saipan as quickly as possible,” said Col. Romin Dasmalchi, the 31st MEU commanding officer. “As a maritime contingency force, the MEU’s ability to quickly respond to a variety of crises across the range of military operations is key, particularly here in the Western Pacific where natural disasters like this are a fairly regular occurrence.”
The 31st MEU provides a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations in the Asia-Pacific area. The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU and remains the Marine Corps’ force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.