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[Image 1: Marine
Corps Historical Collection. Embarkation was significant in
the rapid deployment of Marine helicopter squadrons in MAU
turnovers. Pictured is a salute to HMA-569 S-4, Capt Charles
A. Dittmar, top right.]

Page 34(The Bitter End)


tion whose members served only one-year tours of duty. To simplify personnel assignments, the 4th Marines was charged with the ARG Alpha commitment, and the 9th Marines was tasked with providing Marines for ARG Bravo.

Amphibious Ready Group Alpha, with the helicopter-equipped 31st MAU embarked, was capable of conducting sea-based, over-the-horizon, forced, surface, and vertical amphibious entry anywhere in the Western Pacific area. Amphibious Ready Group Bravo was configured to perform a forced, surface, amphibious entry in the same region. The combat efficiency of the embarked BLTs was maintained by conducting amphibious landings, training, and exercises at Camp Fuji, Japan, in the Republic of the Philippines, and on Okinawa.27

To meet these commitments. III MAF had to institute a system of controlled
personnel inputs for the infantry battalions and the combat support and service
support platoons, the units constituting every new BLT. Beginning in 1973,
these changes resulted in a four-phased BLT Readiness Program [Input, Pre-deployment
Training, Deployment, and Post-deployment]. The building of an organization,
normally from zero strength, took place during the 60-day input phase. During
this period, individual combat and physical skills were stressed, and by the
end of the input cycle the battalion was at 100 percent of its manning level,
the maximum strength authorized. At any given time, there was one and occasionally
two battalions in the input cycle. This meant that the Commanding General,
III MAF sometimes had four, and usually had five, of his six infantry battalions
ready for contingencies and deployment*

As the date for the opening of Expo 76 (Japanese exposition and World's Fair built on land in northern Okinawa near the Marine Corps' training area) ap-

*Thc status of battalions and BEE as of 31 December 1973 was: IstBn, 4th
Marines-Input Phase; BLT 2/4-Deployment Phase; BLT 3/4-Deploymcnt Phase; 1st
Bn, 9th Marines-Post-Deployment Phase; 2d Bn, 9th Marines-Input Phase; and
3d Bn, 9th Marines- Predeployment Phase.

Page 34(The Bitter End)