Air, ground elements mesh during ‘Helo Raid’ week

29 Oct 2004 | Sgt. Roman Yurek

Nearly 150 Marines from Golf Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Bn., 8th Marine Regiment, supported by personnel and equipment from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-162 (Reinforced) completed the Heliborne Company Raid Course here Oct. 29.

The weeklong course allowed members of II Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group to train and evaluate the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's execution of a ship-to-shore helicopter assault. 

The “Helo Raid” course is but one portion of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s intense pre-deployment training program, geared toward the unit’s "Special Operations Capable" certification.

Classes and rehearsals were conducted at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., allowing the Marines of the company to learn and practice the basic tactics needed to conduct a heliborne raid.

After the rehearsals, the Marines loaded into CH-46E Sea Knights and CH-53E Super Stallions and flew from the air station to Combat Town here to execute the raid.

As soon as they landed, the Marines established security around the landing zone and proceeded to their objective under air cover from AH-1W Cobra helicopters.  Inside two buildings on the edge of Combat Town, role players acting as enemy insurgents put up stiff resistance against the company’s coordinated assault.  In this realistic scenario, Golf Co. attacked the insurgents while averting damage or casualties in the civilian community surrounding the objective.

With the enemy insurgents captured or killed, and their weapons seized, the mission was accomplished.

One of the most critical aspects of the training was the integration of the MEU’s Aviation and Ground Combat Elements.  The ability of these elements to operate as one team is paramount to the future success of the MEU.

In addition to the integration training, HMM-162 seized the opportunity to fulfill some of its internal training requirements.

The Golden Eagles qualified three air mission commanders, two assistant flight leads and two escort flight leads.

The air mission commander is responsible for the entire aviation side of an operation. 
The assistant flight lead is in charge of all the CH-46Es and CH-53Es.  These helicopters serve as the primary personnel and equipment transport aircraft. 

The escort flight leads are in charge of the remaining aircraft consisting of AH-1W Cobras, UH-1N Hueys and AV-8B Harriers.  These aircraft escort other aircraft and ground assets during operations, providing route reconnaissance and air security.

During the raid, HMM-162 (Rein.) was able to incorporate all of their aircraft in support of Golf Co. for either transport or air cover.

Following this course, the two other infantry companies from BLT 2/8, Echo and Fox, will be going through similar training.  The BLT will also conduct training in motorized and mechanized raids.

Read more about the 26th MEU at www.26meu.usmc.mil.