From Ship and Shore, Marines and Sailors Strengthened Partner Nations

22 Aug 2023 | Lance Cpl. Kohlmann PEO Land Systems

Coveñas, Colombia – U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy Sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 8 (CLB-8), Combat Logistics Regiment 2 (CLR-2), 2nd Marine Logistics Group (MLG), conducted logistical support during the world’s longest-running annual multinational exercise UNITAS LXIV, July 8-19, 2023.

With the temperature rising to 93 degrees in Coveñas, Colombia, working long hours, and adapting to a foreign country, CLB-8 Marines and Sailors supported the service members participating in UNITAS LXIV day in and day out. “Your participation in UNITAS 2023 reaches beyond warfighting through enabling enhanced theater security cooperation and aiding in the advancement of multinational coalition operations,” said Rear Adm. James Aiken, the commander for U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command. “Each of your units were key members of a combined fleet comprised of 26 warships/vessels, 25 fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and approximately 7,000 personnel from 20 partner nations.”

UNITAS, which is Latin for “unity” focuses on strengthening existing regional partnerships which include Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, South Koran, United Kingdom, Uruguay and the United States.

On July 8, 2023, Marines and Sailors landed in Coveñas, Colombia, where they conducted ship-to-shore maneuvers utilizing the U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC). During the beach landing, Marines and Sailors with CLB-8 unloaded all of the tactical vehicles and equipment needed to provide logistical support for UNITAS LXIV. In order to support UNITAS LXIV, motor transportation operators with CLB-8 supplied water, Meals Rady to Eat (MRE), ammunition and transportation to Marines with Lima Company 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Forces Reserve. Having these resources, allowed them to properly execute their training exercises, which included ranges, helicopter exercises, fast roping, and martial arts training.

Outside of traditional resupply methods, Marines tested medically outfitting Utility Tactical Vehicles (UTV) to provide an alternative for medical evacuation if needed. UTVs can be an efficient option for transportation against geographic complications due to its smaller vehicle body and its average payload of 800lbs.

During the exercise Marines experimented with the Tactical Resupply Vehicle-150 (TRV-150), an unmanned aerial system designed to transport gear and equipment, testing the unmanned aerial system’s capabilities to transport medical supplies, water, and MREs.
Sailors from CLB-8 worked hand and hand with the joint nations that participated in UNITAS LXIV to exchange ideas of how to give proper medical care in a field environment.

‘During the advanced technical medical course, Sailors with CLB-8 learned from the Colombian Marines how to provide the same level of medical care with less resources in a field environment. Doing more with less, allows the medical team to be better prepared in situations where an abundance of resources is not available,’ said U.S. Navy Lt. Dan Keller, head of the Damage Control Recitation Team with CLB-8. Additionally, not only did Marines from CLB-8 provide support through logistical means, they also assisted with the command element.
“We played a lot of different roles, not just a typical execution of logistical support,” said U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 Juan Balderas, a supply operations officer with CLB-8. Marines were able to set up a Landing Force Operation Center (LFOC) aboard San Antonino-class amphibious transportation dock USS New York (LPD 21), which was the control center that oversaw the entire operation. The LFOC provided the Marines and Sailors that got off ship in Coveñas important updates and information.

Exercise UNITAS LXIV is part of the Marine Corps’ mission of strengthening maritime partnerships, interoperability, and the ability to maintain and build on existing regional partnerships. “We take care of family,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ray Cudnik, the commander for CLB-8’s medical team, “It doesn’t matter if it’s our own people or people from other places, we come together and we figure it out.”
Participation in UNITAS LXIV reminds the world of the United States’ commitment to the success of their partner nations, and its ability to ready for anything at a moment’s notice.