Marines and Sailors with 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, who formed the command element for U.S. Northern Command’s COVID-19 response in the Northeast United States, returned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 19, 2020.
The Task Force Northeast Command Element coordinated U.S. Northern Command-assigned medical support in the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont as well as the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The task force provided command and control for Title 10 forces in the region, facilitated logistical and medical supply requirements, and increased medical capacity with U.S. Army Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces, a U.S. Navy Expeditionary Medical Facility, and U.S. Air Force Reserve medical personnel.
“Our task force’s expeditionary capabilities supported local, state and federal agencies as part of a whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Neary, TF Northeast commanding general and 2nd MEB commanding general. “Our ability to rapidly deploy and employ a joint team from across the military services with unique, mission-enhancing support serves as a testament to the professionalism and readiness of the U.S. military.”
The Marines and Sailors from 2nd MEB arrived in the TF Northeast area of responsibility April 10 after official notification and a rapid deployment process of less than 96 hours. The small team of less than 50 service members deployed from Camp Lejeune aboard MV-22b Osprey aircraft from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing to travel more than 700 miles to Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Once established in the region, 2nd MEB served as the core of the task force with active and reserve support from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
“Task Force Northeast synchronized geographically dispersed organizations with diverse experiences and expertise to set conditions for our states and territories to sustain their recovery,” said Col. Edward J. Healey, chief of staff, TF Northeast and 2nd MEB. “Working with civilian, government and military organizations in a dynamically changing operational environment like this one required capabilities from across the Department of Defense.”
During the past two years, 2nd MEB executed numerous training events and exercises to hone its ability to command and control U.S. and international military forces from NATO allies and partners. Lessons from working with other nations to bridge language barriers, navigate cultural nuances, and accomplish the collective mission transferred to more effective support for local, state and federal requirements.
“Across the United States and Europe, 2nd MEB consistently rehearsed our ability to globally deploy, employ and redeploy an expeditionary command and control element,” said Col. Garrett L. Benson, TF Northeast and 2nd MEB assistant chief of staff for operations. “The experience we gained and successes we achieved while working with our European allies and partners better prepared us to provide support during this pandemic.”
The Marines’ experience on overseas Exercises Trident Juncture 18, Baltic Operations 2019, Trident Jupiter 19.1 and Maritime Prepositioning Force Exercise 20 all contributed to 2nd MEB’s ability to rapidly deploy to support the whole-of-government response to COVID-19. Those same experiences also helped prepare the command to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans to save lives.
“As the U.S. continues combatting COVID-19 and 2nd MEB completes our portion of the national response, which brought together so many selfless Americans, we will ensure we return a healthy force and remain postured to respond to the next mission,” said Neary. “Even during this pandemic, the Marine Corps stands ready to answer the nation’s call and support our allies and partners abroad.”