KUWAIT -- As the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) moved ashore here over the past four days to conduct live-fire training at Udairi Range, the Marines and Sailors of MEU Service Support Group 26 Transportation Support Detachment (TSD) ensured the offload operation moved smoothly.
To accomplish this, the detachment established the Beach Operating Group (BOG), also called Landing Force Shore Party. The unit’s mission was to receive, stage and prepare for movement the hundreds of troops and tons of cargo and equipment coming ashore for the exercise, said Capt. Danny Ledford, the TSD commander for MSSG 26.
“We control the offload from the entry point to destination,” Ledford said on day two of the movement. “Things are moving very smoothly, we exceeded our scheduled convoys on the first day and are on schedule to complete the offload on time,” he said.
The MSSG Marines and Sailors were dispatched over several locations aboard Kuwait Naval Base during the offload. These included two waterfront locations to bring in landing crafts from Landing Craft Unit 4, the vehicle convoy staging lot and the passenger staging lot.
Though a number of troops and some cargo were moved into Kuwait via airlift from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-162 (Reinforced), the majority came over the beach on Landing Crafts, Air Cushioned (LCACs) and was bussed to Camp Buehring approximately three hours away from the naval base. Camp Buehring will serve as the MEU’s base of operations for the training.
At “LCAC Beach,” landing support specialist Sgt. Nathan L. Reinke double-checked his numbers on day two of the offload as he and the rest of the Beach Operating Group, commonly called “red patchers” for the small red cloth patches sewn on their trousers and covers to distinguish them from other Marines, waited for the next LCAC to arrive.
“We have to maintain 100 percent accountability of everything that comes ashore,” Reinke said showing on his chart the exact number of troops, vehicles and cargo that had already arrived at his position on 40 LCAC loads.
The BOG team worked well together and had everything running smoothly, Reinke said. “We don’t run into any major difficulties. We have all been working together for more than a year.”
The only challenge, he said, came on day one of the offload when hundreds of Marines on several LCACs arrived at the BOG simultaneously while the crew of two Marines was expecting the crafts to arrive one at a time. The pair had to work aggressively to ensure everyone was moved to the correct staging area. “It can be difficult to move so many with so few,” he said.
But everyone moved where they needed to go, Reinke said. As any Marine who has hit the beach in an unfamiliar place will likely admit, the wisest thing to do when stepping off a landing craft is to “look and listen for the ‘red patchers.’”
“If we didn’t have the BOG here, it would be mass chaos when everybody arrived,” he said.
The MEU will remain at Camp Buehring conducting operations at Udari Range through the end of the month. From there, the unit will continue operations in the Arabian Gulf. As the theater reserve for U.S. Forces Central Command, the MEU may be called to support or conduct a wide range of missions, including support to security and stability operations in Iraq.
To follow the 26th MEU (SOC) during operations in Kuwait and the rest of deployment log onto www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.