3/11/2014, VAERNES GARRISON, Norway – When 2nd Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group arrived in Norway, it became the tip of the spear for American participation in Cold Response 2014, but before the exercise began, the Marines had to sharpen the spear.
Cold Response 2014 is a Norwegian-led multinational exercise, which will test the ease with which approximately 15,000 troops from 17 nations can respond to a crisis while working together.
“We’ve been getting all the gear ready so [the Marines] can participate in Cold Response,” said 1st Lt. Keaton J. Thomas, an equipment preparation party officer in charge with 2nd Supply Bn. “If Tromsdal didn’t do its job, there would be no equipment to send north, there would be no trucks, no tents to stay in and there would be no heaters. It’s important that we’ve been able to inspect and inventory the gear to make sure every component of every item is ready to go.”
In addition to using occupational specialty skills to check and send vehicles and equipment to the operational areas, the Marines removed usable equipment from old storage containers from three cave sites used to hold equipment for the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program – Norway, or MCPP-N, and repacked it into new, more space efficient crates that can be shipped worldwide.
MCPP-N supports the reinforcement of Norway, crisis response, humanitarian assistance and supplements Marine Corps expeditionary operations around the world.
“The Marines began extra tasks to help MCPP-N catch up on backlogged work that they didn’t have time for throughout the year,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Pelham, a New Market, Tenn., native and maintenance officer with the unit. “The Marines were also tasked to perform preventative maintenance and annual maintenance services and they accumulated approximately 2,200 man hours of labor between the three sites, collectively … and we project that to be around 4,000 by the end of [the exercise].”
The Marines were not alone in the endeavor, however, and received assistance from the use of maintenance bays and tools, and working side-by-side with the Norwegian contractors and military personnel.
“They’re incredibly accommodating and they’re great counterparts,” said Thomas, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind. “We have a mission we need to accomplish and they do everything they can to aid us. Any time we have a question, they have a good recommendation of how to execute a certain procedure or good ways to stage [equipment] at their facilities; they’ve got the right answers.”
The Norwegian soldiers’ and civilians’ help was necessary because although Tromsdal has the largest interior among the caves, the exterior site is relatively small.
“This site is a little different because it is so narrow and we don’t have much space, and that means we have to plan out every operation,” said Capt. Eivin Brondbo, the Tromsdal cave manager. “What we’ve experienced so far with this team is excellent. The communication, quality and pace of work are very good, and we’ve done a lot in a short time.”
Due to the restrictions on space outside the cave, previous exercises saw only half the number of Marines working at the site during Cold Response 2014, but that was not a problem for the Norwegians.
“It is a great honor to work with the Marines,” said Brondbo, a Snaasna, Norway, native. “We see that they are very dedicated at what they are doing without exception.”