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NEWS | Dec. 15, 2023

3rd Mobilization Support Group visits CNMI and Palau

By Capt. George Sablan

The 3rd Mobilization Support Group Army Reserve Soldiers, a direct reporting unit of the 9th Mission Support Command, traveled to the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas (CNMI), specifically the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, and the Republic of Palau, December 4 to 5, to inspect ports and airports and meet with local agencies who play a critical role in the preparation, response, and recovery for their communities during disasters and other contingencies.

The visits with government officials, air and sea port officials, emergency managers, and inspections of ports and airports enhanced 3rd MSG's preparedness for operations in response to natural disasters.

In the event of a disaster or other contingency in these locations, the 3rd MSG is charged with deploying and managing logistics of personnel and United States provided material and equipment to these islands; In some cases, the 3rd MSG leads military operations as a component of the U.S. response effort. 3rd MSG is committed to responding to natural disasters in a timely and efficient manner to save lives and reduce suffering.

"To ensure we are ready for an operation, it's important for us to meet with key stakeholders, conduct site visits, and plan before a disaster occurs," said 3rd MSG Commander Col. Chris Nagelvoort. "Establishing relationships and having eyes on infrastructure and facilities helps us adjust our assumptions and inform updates to our island-specific response plans."

The 3rd MSG is a U.S. Army Reserve brigade size element consisting of a headquarters company based in Alaska, and three battalions located in Alaska, Guam, and Hawaii. Within the brigade, the 3303rd Mobilization Support Battalion (MSB) located on Guam is charged with serving as the lead battalion for disaster response operations in the Southwest Pacific, while its sister battalions and the brigade headquarters would fall into support based on the scale and complexity of the response operation.

"Unfortunately, devastating typhoons, earthquakes, and tsunamis will hit this region. We need to be ready to rapidly mobilize and assist these islands in a time of need," conveyed 3303rd MSB Command Sgt. Maj. Panini Aliilua. "Trying to figure out how to help and who to talk to only when a disaster already occurred is too late. From this week's discussions with leaders from CNMI and Palau, we have a much better understanding of what we need to do and how to do it."

The 3rd MSG and 3303rd MSB along with other military units assisted in disaster response operations on Guam as a result of Typhoon Mawar in the summer of 2023 and on Saipan as a result of Typhoon Yutu in 2019. This fall, the brigade executed in-depth planning to better understand how to respond to disasters in these locations. The visits to CNMI and the Republic of Palau served as a validation and final step in the planning process.