26th MEU conducts Surface, air TRAP training in Saudi Arabia

6 Mar 2020 | Staff Sgt. Patricia Morris 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines assigned to the Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) platoons with the Battalion Landing Team (BLT), 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted training in Ras Al-Khair, Saudi Arabia.

A TRAP is one of the MEU’s mission-essential tasks, and the TRAP platoons are charged with recovering downed pilots and aircraft or recovering isolated personnel. TRAP training in Ras Al-Khair, Saudi Arabia, was part of routine sustainment training and enhanced the MEU’s capabilities.

“Typically we do an internal call-away by staging gear and refining the process at least once a week,” said 2nd Lt. Connor Mahoney, the Combined Anti-Armor Team (CAAT) platoon commander. “Whenever we have access to training areas, we conduct contingency training such as a TRAP.”

The two different types of TRAP platoons are air and surface. Each is executed differently but has the same outcome and intent, which is bringing back the downed personnel and any sensitive equipment. An air TRAP can be as small as a fire-team sized element or as large as a whole platoon . An air TRAP is inserted utilizing MEU aircraft – while a surface TRAP is inserted utilizing ship-to-shore connectors.

Landing craft, air cushions (LCACs) departed ships and took the CAAT platoons ashore, which is where the Marines were able to set up radio communications and locate the isolated personnel. While the TRAP platoons were executing their missions ashore in Ras Al-Khair, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command had the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group operating in the area to provide maritime security, which allowed the forces to seamlessly go ashore.

“It is important to have one air TRAP and one surface TRAP,” said Staff Sgt. Tanner Benjamin, CAAT section leader. “It is important because if pilots go down, we need to be able to get our military members back quickly.”

The BLT brings many capabilities to the MEU such as the ability to conduct a TRAP mission. The TRAP platoons successfully completed both air and surface TRAP training while off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Combatant commanders rely on the MEU to train for these situations in order to ensure a swift recovery of downed aircraft and personnel. The TRAP training in Ras Al-Khair strengthened one of the MEU’s essential tasks – reinforcing its crisis-response capabilities from the sea.

The 26th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of approximately 2,500 Marines and Sailors supported by three major subordinate elements with the ability to provide agility in a dynamic security environment.

The Bataan ARG and 26th MEU are deployed to the U.S 5th Fleet area in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.