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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit


15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
Marines, JGSDF conduct fast-rope training

By Lance Cpl. Ricardo Hurtado | | February 10, 2014


U.S. Marines with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, conducted fast-rope insertion training during Exercise Iron Fist 2014, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 5, 2014.

Iron Fist is an amphibious exercise that brings together Marines and sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, other I Marine Expeditionary Force units and soldiers from the JGSDF, to promote military interoperability and hone individual and small-unit skills through challenging, complex and realistic training.

Marines and Japanese soldiers began the exercise by practicing basic fast-rope insertion techniques from a 30-foot tower.

“[Fast-rope insertion] is a technique used to insert a team in an area where a helicopter landing may be untenable,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Benjamin Howe, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion.

Before they could fast-rope from a CH-46E Sea Knight, both services had to prove themselves at a practice tower.

Individual drills gave Marines and Japanese soldiers the chance to reinforce the ability to perform an insertion while maintaining control of their drop. Descending as a group teaches them how to operate as a fire-team and be able to execute the insertion in a fast, safe and efficient manner.

“They practiced maintaining a [controlled descent] down a rope to an objective and then executing follow-on tasks, establishing security and pushing out to the objective and carrying on with the mission,” said Howe.

After completing training at the tower, Marines and Japanese soldiers tested their skills by performing fast-rope insertions from an actual CH-46E Sea Knight.

This capability allows commanders to insert troops into treacherous terrains, which plays an important role when conducting anything from humanitarian aid to combat missions.

“The Marine Corps is expeditionary by nature, it’s our job to get a foot-hold of some hard-to-reach place by air, sea and land,” Howe said. “I think this is a textbook example of getting a foot-hold from the air to a land objective.”

In addition to fast-roping, U.S. Marines taught the Japanese soldiers how to conduct special patrol insert extraction operation, known as SPIE rigging.

Howe explained that during SPIE rigging, the troops wear harnesses and attach them to a rope, also known as a spine-line, which is suspended from an aircraft. Once all the harnesses are properly attached to the spine-line, the aircraft lifts up extracting all troops from the area where a helicopter landing is impossible.

Howe also said that it is important to be able to train with other forces because it will ensure a more efficient mission execution when working together in real life situations.

Exercises like this one continue to integrate Marines and the JGSDF to better understand each other’s operations and develop each other’s capabilities.