CHOCOLATE MOUNTAINS, Calif. --
A small team of Marines sat atop a mountain calling in close air support missions during the ground portion at Realistic Urban Training May 11. When they started receiving simulated enemy fire, they had only one option, which was to call in for support.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit has trained a force to recover personnel in situations like these. The Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel Platoon has received specialized training through Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
In addition to the TRAP Platoon building muscle memory and competency in their specialized skill set, the training also gave the tactical air control party a chance to increase their proficiency.
“This exercise gives Marines an opportunity to use fixed and rotary wing close air support as well as the TRAP force,” said Capt. Jonathan R. Elliott, assistant air officer, Command Element, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “It demonstrates interoperability throughout the unit,” added the 31-year-old native of Washington, Penn.
The Marines with the Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company Detachment practiced generating and transmitting nine-lines, a format of information pilots receive to provide close air support.
“This training gave us the opportunity to practice what we do as an air and naval gunfire liaison detachment,” said Sgt. Nathan E. Moser, joint terminal attack controller, 1st ANGLICO Detachment, 15th MEU. “When we are finished, the TRAP platoon will be able to practice a recovery mission by rescuing us,” added the 23-year-old native of Chesterfield, Va.
The TRAP Platoon, broken up into three teams: recovery, support by fire and security, landed in three CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters to begin the conduct of their mission.
“Operations like these are tough,” said Sgt. Andrew E. Campbell, signals intelligence Marine, Recovery Element, TRAP Platoon, 15th MEU. “Being a non-infantry Marine, I had to quickly learn to adapt to their standard operating procedures to help them successfully perform their mission,” added the 24-year-old native of Amarillo, Texas, who assists with recovery when he is not performing as an intelligence Marine.
Campbell and the rest of the platoon were briefed prior to their departure that there would be at least one casualty who needed medical assistance. The security element ended up being the first to find the personnel to be recovered.
“This went really well,” said Campbell. “It really helped to practice getting out of the helicopters, running through different scenarios of what could happen and ensuring Marines knew their responsibilities.”
The platoon gathered all of their personnel, including those being rescued, and returned to Naval Air Facility El Centro.
The 15th MEU is currently training in preparation for their deployment scheduled for this fall.