MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participated in a helicopter raid exercise here Oct. 16.
Marines with BLT 3/1 are the 15th MEU’s ground combat element and will deploy aboard the Essex Amphibious Ready Group next spring.
The exercise was part of a two week-long raid leaders’ course that focuses on teaching small unit leaders tactics and fundamentals to take back to their units. The course teaches basic shooting, breaching, raids, medical classes, and military operations in urban terrain.
“This type of training is extremely important,” said Sgt. Nathan Sleeman, a raids instructor with Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force. “Line companies can’t provide the type of training we offer here, so it’s important that these [Marines] take this knowledge back and teach their Marines.”
After nearly two weeks of improving skills in marksmanship, close-quarters tactics, and MOUT planning, Marines would test the knowledge they learned in a simulated helicopter raid.
“They were given orders last night at around 7 p.m.,” said Sleeman, 24, who is from Adams-Friendship, Wis. “They planned through the night and briefed their orders to their squads at 7 a.m. this morning.”
During their planning, students were able to meet and receive input from the pilots that would be inserting them during the mock raid.
“It’s great to have full control of how you want to execute your mission,” said Sgt. James E. Brooks, a section leader with Weapons Company, 3/1. “It’s rare to be able to work with the pilots to complete a solid plan. We all felt good about the plan going into this raid after meeting with them.”
Eager to test themselves, Marines loaded onto MV-22 Ospreys and made their way to their objective point.
Within a few moments of being on the ground, Marines began clearing buildings and reached their first objective.
“Going in, there’s so much on your mind,” said Brooks, 24, from Cincinnati. “360 security and worrying about your team going into a close-quarters environment. Here they bring to light a lot of things that [Marines] tend to overlook. In this type of environment, it’s always eyes up.”
Not long after the first boots hit the deck, Marines had cleared through buildings, accomplished their mission, and were loading onto the Ospreys.
“Realistically helo raids are fast paced, so you don’t want to be there longer than you have to,” Sleeman said. “Overall they did a good job, but there’s still a lot they can improve on.”
A training exercise like this gives small unit leaders with the MEU’s GCE an opportunity to experience a new perspective on the battlefield.
“Having a full understanding of all positions will allow squad leaders and team leaders to concentrate on the bigger picture,” Sleeman said. “This gives them a better understanding of what’s going on in the fight and make decisions versus being given tasks.”