The sprawling Marine base aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is still in recovery mode following a battering by Hurricane Florence, and operations are not yet to back to normal.
The storm has left 1st Battalion, 6th Marines and 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines in a bit of a deployment turnover limbo as Camp Lejeune continues to clean up.
Marines with 3/8 are slated to replace 1/6 as the next rotational unit to deploy to Europe and Norway.
As of right now, 1/6’s advance party is back at Camp Lejeune and an advance party from 3/8 is in Europe, but the main body has yet to deploy, “and all that is frozen probably until 1 October,” Maj. Gen David Furness, the commander of the 2nd Marine Division, told All Marine Radio Tuesday.
Part of the hold up is that aircraft are flying rescue and humanitarian missions and have yet to return to normal operations, Furness said in the radio interview.
Marines who voluntarily evacuated Camp Lejeune before the storm made landfall, or who have been on leave, have been asked not to return to the base until Sept. 24. Furness said that about 10,000 people from the 2nd Marine Division voluntarily evacuated Camp Lejeune prior to the storm.
Some areas in North Carolina to include routes leading to the base are still underwater or have been heavily damaged making any trek back to Camp Lejeune dangerous.
Despite the uproar on social media following the base’s decision to not implement a mandatory evacuation, some of the low-lying areas of Camp Lejeune to include Stone Bay and 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion were ordered to evacuate, Furness said.
The next rotation to Norway will be the Corps’ fourth six-month rotation to the Arctic country where Marines are learning to fight and operate in extreme cold-weather environments.
Norway recently made a decision to expand the Corps’ footprint in the region nearly doubling the size of the Marine rotation to roughly 700 Marines.
That decision provoked the ire of Russia, who decried the decision and warned of consequences.
Lt. Col. John Giannella, the former 3/8 commander was abruptly sacked prior to his unit’s deployment to Norway due to a “loss of trust and confidence in his ability” to lead the unit, Corps officials said.
Lt. Col. Neil R. Berry took over as the commander of 3/8 following Giannella’s removal.
Norway is set to kick off one of NATO’s largest exercises in nearly 20 years, dubbed Trident Juncture, near the end of October. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary are slated to participate in that exercise.