CAMP LEMONIER, DJIBOUTI -- As the 26th MEU conducted Exercise Image Nautilus in Djibouti, Feb. 6-14, its support element, Combat Logistics Battalion-26, provided much more than the proverbial beans, bullets and bandages to the participating troops.
The CLB's primary focus during Image Nautilus was to provide solid logistical support to the ashore elements from the MEU's ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 2/2, who carried out the exercise, said Maj. Chris C. Lynch, CLB-26 executive officer.
As troops from BLT 2/2 worked to renovate the exterior of a primary school in Djibouti City Feb. 6-7, and conducted training alongside Djiboutian soldiers at Myriam Range, Djibouti, Feb. 10-14, they were supplied with food, water and ammunition by the logistics battalion.
The work done at the primary school was supplemented by CLB-26, as its engineers trimmed trees and erected a fence, and data network specialists from the unit wired the school's computers to the internet.
"Our involvement in the community relations event wasn't planned, but because we had the resources and personnel ashore, we went ahead and did it," explained Lynch.
In addition to providing support to the Marines involved in Image Nautilus, CLB-26 offered limited
services in the form of fuel, fruit and sports drinks to the Djiboutian forces who participated in the bilateral training.
"We went above and beyond to provide [the Djiboutian troops] with all the things that our Marines and Sailors enjoyed during the exercise," said Lynch.
Offering extra support to the exercise was made possible by the diverse logistics capabilities CLB-26 brings to the MEU, said Lynch.
Nearly every logistics asset in the Marine Corps is found in the CLB, and the unit is task-organized to provide maximum support to the MEU's missions.
That organization, in addition to solid working relations with BLT 2/2, enabled CLB-26 to not only provide complete logistical support for the exercise, but to also serve as the ashore command for all MEU forces participating in Image Nautilus, said Lynch.
"By being the ashore command element, we were able to be fully involved and control all of our missions ashore here, most of which were logistically intensive in nature," he said.
Participating in an exercise with the objective of enhancing goodwill between America and Djibouti made all the hard work involved worth the effort, said Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson, an embark specialist from CLB-26.
"I felt honored, and I took pride knowing that I was part of something that might mean everything," he said of his contributions to the exercise.
The Marines and Sailors of CLB-26 know that their work during Image Nautilus was essential in getting the MEU's mission accomplished, said Lance Cpl. Bradley N. Horner, a supply warehouse clerk from CLB-26.
"It's important for us to be at the top of our game," he said. "This unit would be mission incapable without our work."
Exercise Image Nautilus marked the first time the MEU operated ashore during its current, routine deployment that began Jan. 6.
The 26th MEU is deployed as the landing force for the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group. In addition to USS Bataan (LHD-5), the strike group is comprised of the USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), USS Shreveport (LPD-12), USS Nitze (DDG-94), USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), USS Underwood (FFG-36) and USS Scranton (SSN-756).
The Bataan ESG is currently supporting maritime security operations (MSO) in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command area of operations. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
For more on the MEU, including news, videos and contact information, visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.