CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan -- The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade held a change of command ceremony on Camp Courtney June 12.
Brig. Gen. Craig Q. Timberlake relinquished command to Col. John A. Ostrowski, the former chief of staff of 3rd MEB. Brig. Gen. Paul J. Kennedy will assume command later this summer.
Timberlake enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 1977 and was meritoriously promoted to staff sergeant in January 1982. He was commissioned through the enlisted commissioning program in August 1984. Before his assignment as the commanding general of 3rd MEB in February 2011, he was the chief of staff of III Marine Expeditionary Force. Timberlake’s next assignment will be as the deputy commanding general, Regional Command North, International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan. Following that he will be the director of Manpower Management, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps.
Kennedy was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1985. His previous assignment was as the director, U.S. Marine Corps Division of Public Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps.
Since its reactivation in 2011, 3rd MEB has been continuously engaged in the Asia-Pacific region with real-world operations, annual exercises, realistic training and a continuous forward presence, according to Timberlake.
“I have seen the organization grow over the last two years by leaps and bounds, and to see the difference between two years ago and today is tremendous,” said Timberlake.
The changes in 3rd MEB have been noticeable to the staff and beneficial for the readiness of III MEF as well, according to Ostrowski.
“We have grown significantly in personnel and capabilities since our reactivation,” said Ostrowski. “From a skeleton staff of just a few Marines, 3rd MEB will be fully operationally capable with 88 Marines and sailors in the command element by the end of this fiscal year.”
These capabilities have already been tested and refined through humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations to include Operation Tomodachi, flood relief in the Kingdom of Thailand and Typhoon Bopha relief in the Republic of the Philippines, according Ostrowski.
In addition, Marines and sailors of 3rd MEB have built relationships across the Asia-Pacific region by leading exercises such as Balikatan, U.S. and Philippine Forces Bilateral Amphibious Landing Exercise, Ssang Yong and Yama Sakura, Ostrowski added.
As a scalable, standing, joint-capable and forward-deployed headquarters, 3rd MEB provides commanders flexibility, according to Lt. Col. Rodney Legowski, the 3rd MEB operations officer. This includes the ability to tailor the response appropriately to accomplish any mission.
“Along with becoming initially operationally capable last September, 3rd MEB has also been designated as III MEF’s alert contingency Marine Air-Ground Task Force,” added Legowski.
When not deployed in support of their regional partners, Marines with 3rd MEB have received training from the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Pacific Command, to include the joint humanitarian operations course and humanitarian assistance response training.
The Marines of 3rd MEB have done an incredible job of building the unit from the ground up and leading the service members placed under their charge during a wide variety of operations and exercises, according to Timberlake.
“I would like to thank the Marines of 3rd MEB,” said Timberlake. “In the two years I have been here, there have been hundreds if not thousands of Marines assigned to it. I know these Marines will continue to set the bar high.”