MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
‘Train how you fight,’ rang true when more than 100 Marines and sailors with Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted their helo raid at night as a part of MEU Exercise, at Range 800, here, April 9.
Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise is designed to train the unit as a Marine Air Ground Task Force in preparation for their upcoming deployment. It is the first exercise that integrates all elements of the MAGTF. This was the first opportunity BLT Marines had to work with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 (reinforced,) the MEU’s aviation combat element.
The MAGTF concept was most visible when the ACE aided the BLT in completing their mission. Their crew helicopters inserted the Marines while their attack helicopters notionally provided close air support. As additional support, a KC-130 airplane lit up the skies by expending illumination rounds to assist the troops moving through the darkness.
“Marines need to be confident shooting live rounds right next to each other,” said 1st Lt. Bradley C. Fromm, range safety officer for the raid and executive officer, India Company, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “This range will help build that confidence,” added the 26-year-old native of Madison, N.J.
The Kilo Company Marines were broken up into three elements: assault, support and security. The assault element is the main effort in a raid, which is defined as an operation to temporarily seize an area in order to secure information, confuse an adversary, capture personnel or equipment or to destroy a capability culminating with a planned withdrawal.
The support element was broken up into two positions and provided cover fire while the assault element closed in on the objective. The security element assisted by covering the assault element from enemy infiltration. All the Marines were tactically inserted by either a CH-46 Sea Knight or a CH-53 Super Stallion.
“This was a great opportunity for us to practice working with the other elements of the MAGTF,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel L. Storberg, radio operator, India Company, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “Most of the Marines haven’t worked with the rest of the MEU, and I’m glad we got to do that tonight,” added the 21-year-old native of Ventura, Calif.
Conducting the raid at night provided good training for the unit. India Company provided personal safety officers for the range in order to help reduce hazards of conducting a raid at night on unfamiliar terrain.
“We were responsible for making sure safety was paramount during this exercise,” said Lance Cpl. Chance W. Parks, PSO for the assault element and team leader, 3rd Platoon, India Company, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “The Marines were able to quickly revert to what they have been practicing. This was a successful training evolution,” added the 23-year-old native of Menifee, Calif.
The training was for more than the troops on the ground. Exercises like a night helo raid challenge the units’ staff officers to conduct intense planning to ensure even the smallest details are considered.
“Our goal is to make sure the Marines know that when they are tasked with a mission, they can rest assured the planning was done successfully,” said Capt. Travis L. Hord, assistant operations officer, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “Also, they are building trust in their fellow Marines across the MEU. Everyone needs to trust each other, and they certainly will after this,” added the 30-year-old native of Dayton, Ohio.
The 15th MEU is a Marine Air Ground Task Force comprised of approximately 2,300 Marines and sailors who are participating in MEUEX to prepare the unit for its deployment scheduled for this fall.