U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES PACIFIC, CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, June 10, 2004 — Brig. Gen. Joseph V. Medina, commander of the Belleau Wood Expeditionary Strike Group, led 4,000 Marines and sailors into Pearl Harbor for five days of training before heading directly to the Western Pacific in support of the war on terrorism.
Medina, the first Marine general ever assigned commander of naval ships, and his seven-ship fleet, left San Diego to deploy for an undetermined amount of time as a direct response to the U.S. Central Command's request for forces to conduct future operations.
Medina received his commission in 1976, two years before the USS Belleau Wood received its commission.
Medina also served as commander for several major pacific exercises before relinquishing command of the 3rd Marine Regiment to command Expeditionary Strike Group 3.
The strike group plays a critical part in the military's new fleet response plan.
"This is a great tool," said Medina. "This strike group gives us the opportunity to go places we couldn't go before."
"We deploy for more specific missions now, rather than going out to sea and training continuously," Medina continued. "Our schedule originally had us deploying in late June, but the fleet response plan has us out on shorter notice with more uncertain deployment time. A great advantage of the FRP is that we'll deploy less."
The FRP was developed to meet today's immediate response requirements and provide combat power. It can carry out humanitarian assistance and non-combatant evacuation operations as well as combat operations in support of joint force commanders throughout Central Command's area of responsibility.