India Company, 3/6 invades MCAS New River

1 May 2001 | Cpl. Thomas Michael Corcoran

Marines from India Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/6, made their way to Marine Corps Air Station New River to set up camp for four days of intense helicopter raid training April 29. The training enhanced the Marines' readiness for their deployment with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. "This is just a MEU exercise," said Sgt. Juan V. Corleto, mortars section leader. The Marine from Bell Gardens, Calif., explained that though it is a helo company's method of insertion, many don't train with helicopters because of availability. Corleto said the reason they trained was to get the missions and raid basics down. He said a helo company should be able to do a raid using the least amount of time and force. Since raids take place behind enemy lines, time is a factor. Marines must get in and out without the enemy having a chance to reinforce their numbers or have enough time to plan any drastic counter measures. The raid should have just enough Marines needed to complete the mission. "The more Marines you take with you the more that could go wrong," said Corleto. There are three basic helo raid packages: light, medium and heavy, said Cpl. Eric M. Doerr, assistant section leader. The Satellite Beach, Fla., Marine explained, "Each raid package is set up for the desired effect of the raid. A light raid would not be expecting a large enemy force, just as a heavy raid would expect a large enemy force." There are also hard and soft raid variations. During a hard raid, the Marines would set down almost on top of the objective. In a soft raid they could insert miles from the objective, according to Doerr. Aside from the types of raids, Doerr explained, there are also four elements of a raid: command, security, support and assault. The command element is just that, they oversee the operation and planning process, then put together the package that will best complete the mission. The security element provides security. Doerr said that if a raid were taking place near a heavily traveled roadway they would have security along that road. The security allows the support and assault teams to do their jobs better. Doerr went on to explain that once on the ground, the support team will engage the enemy with heavy gunfire and allow the assault team to flank the enemy. "They're coming along slow, but they're coming," said Lance Cpl. Paul M. Condit, machinegun squad leader. "Learning the basics of a raid is not a hard task, it's just keeping up with the high tempo." Condit, a native of Bridgewater, N.J., said that all of his Marines are new, learning the basics during their first chance to fly in helicopters as a company. "When we were working up for the last float, before we actually flew in helos, we used "CH-5-tons,"" said Pfc. Mike D. Guild, machinegun team leader. The Taunton, Mass., native said using the 5-ton trucks to haul Marines for the mock helo raids had a large benefit. The "CH-5-ton" raids let the new Marines know how the squads would be split up in separate helos and where the helos would land in relation to each other. He said the Marines could get the steps down without the distraction of flying in a helo for the first time. "It was good to get us in the mindset for doing raids." However, with or without "CH-5-tons" the Marines are getting the basics down through repetition. "The repetition get old fast," said Lance Cpl. Donovan G. Pratt, machine gunner. "But repeating it over and over again makes you remember what you're supposed to be doing." Pratt, a native of Anoka, Minn., said the training is hard but it does bring camaraderie between the units, Battalion Landing Team 3/6 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-365 (Reinforced). He said it also brings camaraderie to his unit between squads. Pratt said many times the difficulty of moving through a swamp would bring the squads together to get the job done. It doesn't matter if they're trudging through a swamp or taking some quality time to let their feet air out, all the Marines seem to agree with Pratt, "It [the training] will make our MEU forces ready to float."