FORT PICKETT, Va. -- With a dark cloud looming overhead and rain pouring, Marines with Headquarters and Service Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted an urban mobility breaching exercise at Fort Pickett, Va., Sept. 18, 2012.
“The reason for urban breaching is to have dynamic entry,” said Lance Cpl. Luke Reynolds, BLT 3/2 assault man. “If you are outside, and they know you are, you don’t want to kick in the door because they are probably going to be waiting for you. So, if you are using explosives on a target … they have no clue what just happened. It makes it a lot safer for your Marines and yourself to push to the objective and get done what has to be done.”
1st Lt. Ryan Holland, a South Bend, Ind., native and BLT 3/2’s Engineer Platoon commander said, his Marines were rehearsing and perfecting their art of urban breaching. In their training, they were working with six-man teams – each man entrusted with responsibilities important to their success. Utilizing a blast blanket to take the blunt of the explosions, the Marines were safeguarded from any debris.
Two Marines held the responsibility to make sure a passageway was created. One as the primary breacher utilizing explosives and the other as a backup, mechanical breacher, using any number of tools including sledgehammers, bolt cutters, or halligan tactical entry tools in case the initial charge didn’t have its intended effects on a target.
A halligan tool is a multipurpose breaching tool that is used it to get in between doors and pry them outward. It is also good for breaking out windows and clearing sharp edges once a window has been shattered.
Taking into consideration the vulnerabilities the assault man ensues while setting a charge, the rest of the stick provides security from the front, flank and rear.
With the added element of rain, the Marines had to adapt to their environment overcoming obstacles they came across like making hooks out of tape and hanging the charges from the door handles since the explosives wouldn’t stick to the water-soaked doors.
Holland said the excursion to Fort Pickett has been extremely beneficial because it allows the Marines to focus on their training. It eliminates the distractions that being on your home base encompasses, granting the battalion the ability to absorb and understand the material being taught.