15th MEU News
Photo Information

A reconnaissance Marine with Alpha Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion jumps into the Pacific Ocean at the Red Beach training area during helo casting training, Jan. 30. The event was a part of Exercise Iron Fist 2012, a bilateral training event with the Japanese, designed to increase interoperability between the two services. The purpose of helo casting is to insert troops over the horizon and have them come ashore to conduct reconnaissance missions. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers

Recon Marines, Japanese soldiers helo cast into the Pacific

30 Jan 2012 | Cpl. John Robbart III

Marines with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and Japanese soldiers with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force practiced helo casting at the Red Beach training area, Jan. 30.

The event was a part of Exercise Iron Fist 2012, a bilateral training event with the Japanese, designed to increase interoperability between the two services. The purpose of helo casting is to insert troops over the horizon and have them come ashore to conduct reconnaissance missions.

“We are demonstrating to the Japanese our amphibious capability so they can conduct this type of training in Japan,” said Capt. Daniel J. Davis, company commander, Alpha Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. “The intent is to send both services out and have them still be effective when they conduct a mission as a team,” added the 29-year-old native of South Bend, Ind.

The three-day amphibious training was conducted in small steps. On the first day the Marines and soldiers went with no gear, then conducting it with packs with whatever they might need weighing in at roughly 80 lbs dry and more than 100 lbs when wet, finally working up to performing at night with their full gear.

“At the end of the three days, they’ll be very good at this,” said Davis with a smile.

The troops on the ground felt ready for any mission the upcoming deployment may have in store for them.

“This is a great insert method to get us closer to the beach,” said Sgt. Michael J. Vargas, team leader, Alpha Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. “When we jump into the water, we utilize the buddy system. We are usually in a team of 6-8 Marines and we swim in together online, as a team,” added the 27-year-old native of San Antonio.

According to Col. Scott D. Campbell, commanding officer, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s, staying true to our amphibious roots has been a trend more than most people realize.

“We saw a snapshot of [Marines using these skills] with Operation Tomodachi,” he said in reference to the 31st MEU’s recent accomplishment. “It’s a classic example to help respond to a host nation. However, this type of insertion would typically be used for a reconnaissance mission. These Marines are trained to be the first ones in.”

The 15th MEU is currently training for a deployment later this summer.

“The world’s a dangerous place and we have to have allies,” said Campbell. “The Japanese are good at [being amphibious]. The training we are doing today is applicable for a lot of different problem sets around the world. We’re fortunate to have a chance to do it with our allies,” added the Texas native.


15th Marine Expeditionary Unit