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    Thursday, September 21, 2017-6:08:43A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Operation Geiger Fury begins

TINIAN — The largest Marine Corps military exercise on Tinian has begun.

The High Speed Vessel finally pulled into Tinian harbor yesterday morning carrying 88 Marines and one Navy personnel.
Marines based in Iwakuni, Japan  await instructions before disembarking their High Speed Vessel yesterday at the Tinian port. Photos by Alexie Villegas ZotomayorThe arrival of the HSV kicked off the various activities involved in the month-long exercise.

In an interview, Marine Forces Pacific -Forward (Guam and the CNMI) Officer-in-charge Colonel Robert D. Loynd said, “On multiple levels, it is a very important event not only for the Marine Corps being able to train in an expeditionary environment which is so important to us. Some of these training venues are unique throughout this part of the world and Tinian certainly affords us some tremendous opportunity. We are excited to be able to do that.”

He also said that Operation Geiger Fury will allow the Marines to conduct expeditionary airfield preparations which is a critical part of what they do.

In conducting what he confirmed as the largest Marine exercise to be staged on the island, Loynd said it would be a return for the Marines to their roots — an exercise that is very much expeditionary and amphibious in nature.

“Tinian is a unique environment. It is new in many ways for us. We haven’t been here in a while,” added Loynd.

With approximately 100 participants arriving yesterday, Loynd said the rest may be coming by plane; however, they have yet to confirm that.

The Marines who disembarked the HSV vessel immediately buckled down to work.

Loynd said, “Today will be a logistics day — primarily. You’ll see a lot of activity and equipment coming out of the ship and then they transit to their training sites.”

For Loynd the Marines would have a busy day as they establish their bivouacs and as they get themselves settled in.

Owing to the expeditionary nature of the exercise, Operation Geiger Fury will be strictly confined to their training area.

He said, “If they are deployed out in the field and doing some very critical training in that regard, it’s not really a garrison exercise, it is a real expeditionary exercise.”

Loynd also said that the Marines would be possibly engaged in a 24-hour exercise.

“Anytime we are deployed to austere conditions or expeditionary environments, in essence it is a 24/7 proposition,” he confirmed.

Loynd said that the U.S. Marines will be looking forward to forging an improved partnership with the CNMI and Tinian in exploring future opportunities for expanded training on the world’s former largest operational airbase.

He, however, declined to comment on Tinian being considered as future training site for the U.S. Marines and possibly Japan Self Defense Force stating that it wasn’t within his purview and deferring to officials in Washington, D.C.

“We are just eager on this particular occasion to utilize Tinian and work in close partnership with the people of Tinian to make this particular exercise a success,” he said.

Loynd also said they look forward to exploring joint and cooperative training activities with their joint service partners as well as allies in the region.

As for the Japanese forces training on Tinian in the future, Loynd offered this reply, “Perhaps. I don’t think that any of that is codified just yet.”

Loynd assures Tinian

Variety asked Loynd if there is reason for the residents to worry about the trash to be left behind by the military, he assured, “We are taking great steps as we always do in any training venue to ensure that we’re good neighbors and good partners, with all the de-confliction and coordination with the various agencies of the CNMI and Tinian Mayor’s Office and the federal agencies as well has been completed.”

He added, “This is a successful first step and we are excited of this opportunity.”

As for the noise that may be generated by the coming of the F/A-18 Hornets, Loynd said, “I don’t think the noise impact will be significant at all.”

“We’ll talk to the community at the end of the exercise in which ways we can improve in the future,” said Loynd.

For Loynd, the exercise on Tinian is more of developing and enhancing relationships.

Rehabilitation of North Field

The North Field restoration project mulled by the Marines will showcase their capabilities.

“I think you will be very amazed at the capability sets that we bring,” he said.

For Loynd, Tinian will afford the Marines a great training which they’re not able to accomplish in other settings.

“It will be quite an operation,” he said.

“There will be continued access to tourists,” Loynd confirmed.

Although some areas will be restricted for safety reason, Loynd said the tourists can still visit the historic sites.

Marines from Iwakuni

“They make up what’s known as the Marine Wing Support Squad 171,” he said.

The Marines participating in the Operation Geiger Fury, he said, are part of the First Marine Air Wing of the Third Marine Expeditionary Force.

“They are part of that integrated, combined arms capability that Marine Corps brings. So we have aviation capabilities, ground capabilities, and certainly robust logistics capabilities as well, all combined in an integrated package,” said Loynd.

He added, “We are going to exercise all those here.”

Marine Forces Pacific -Forward (Guam and the CNMI) Officer-in-charge Col. Robert D. Loynd chats with Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz at the Tinian port yesterday.Tinian welcomes the Marines

Yesterday, Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz led the welcome party at the port and continued to express his optimism that Tinian will finally be considered as a future training site.

“This one is most significant as I feel that this is the beginning of an extended exercise with the U.S. Marine Corps and hopefully with the Japan Self Defense Force,” he said.

Dela Cruz said he looks forward to the exercise generating not only interest to the islands but also economic activities for local businesses.

The mayor also recalled that it wasn’t the first time for such a high speed vessel to visit Tinian.

He said about six to eight years ago, Marines arrived on Tinian using an HSV, and later helped conduct clearing activities in the North Field.

As for his wish list for the visiting Japan-based Marines, the mayor confirmed that he provided a long list; however, he said he doesn’t expect the Marines would be able to respond to all his requests.

“I have a very long list of community projects, some of them may not be addressed on this particular exercise,” he said.

The mayor expressed his optimism that those wishes that may not be entertained this time would be entertained in future exercises.

Among the items in his wish list were widening of the road, repair of the access roads, removal of debris, painting and renovation of the major government buildings, among others.

Meanwhile Tinian Municipal Council chairman Estevan P. Cabrera and vice chairman Joseph SN. Cruz said Tinian has long been anticipating the military exercise and they welcome its economic impact to Tinian.

Department of Commerce Tinian Resident Director Jose Kiyoshi also agreed that the coming of the Marines could give the Tinian economy a needed boost.

Work begins

Master Sergeant Shane Smoger, MWSS-171 provided an overview of what they set to accomplish.

“Our squadron overall, our job is to go forward deployed and construct a fully operational airfield in an expeditionary manner,” he said.

Yesterday, Smoger led the efforts to unload the heavy equipment from the HSV which will be critical to the restoration activities in the North Field.

“We are going to unload, convoy up to the North Field, and repair Baker Runway to the point where we can land a U.S. Marine Corps C-130 on the airfield,” Smoger said.

As they headed to the North Field expecting to have difficulty with corals, Smoger assured that they will complete the mission.

Smoger arrived Monday with three other Marines, “all with specialties in different fields.”

Since coming to Tinian, Smoger said he appreciates the warm hospitality of the people that he said he finds no parallel in other jurisdictions.

“This is the most friendly place that I have ever been in my life,” he said.

He added, “They treat us like we are part of the family already.”

Smoger, who’s military occupation specialty or MOS is a firefighter will also serve as the Marine Corps fire chief while on Tinian.

On the improvements to the roads in the North Field, Smoger said they brought in a lot of heavy equipment to clear the brush, compact the surface to a point where an aircraft can safely land with no hazard taking into consideration FAA regulations.

“The culminating event is the landing of the C-130 on Baker Runway,” he said.