CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines and sailors with India Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted vertical assault raid training at multiple urban training sites around Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., Sept. 24-Oct. 5, 2012.
Each portion of the two-week package had a different focus. Initially, Special Operations Training Group focused on helping the company develop standard operating procedures for military operations on urban terrain.
“The first week we focused on lane training and instruction on some of the techniques and procedures associated with conducting a raid,” said Capt. Jason W. Kemp, a Mount Airy, N.C., native, and company commander. “It is important anytime you have a complex task, like a raid, that you focus on the small unit leader and his ability to execute the supporting tasks that make the larger operation possible. We took advantage of the first week to rehearse and refine the orders process and practice the techniques and procedures that we would employ when we got on the tiltrotors.”
The second week of the operation consisted of three situational training exercises (STX) simulating raids – one during the day and two at night. The evolutions consisted of inserting on a landing zone and coordinating a support, security and assault element to work together to close on an objective, clear any resistance and make action on the objective. After the objective was complete, they had to safely egress to a designated area and coordinate with the aviation combat element for extraction.
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 Reinforced supported the training by providing MV-22B Ospreys and CH-53E Super Stallions for the company’s insertion and extraction on the objectives, as well as providing casualty evacuations.
“Working with crew chiefs, we got a feel for what it will be like executing the air-movement plan while still trying to keep situational awareness via the ACE’s communication architecture,” said the company commander. “Actual air insertions, opposed to mock insertions, allowed us to expose the Marines to some of the chaos that could ensue when you get off an aircraft, especially when you are trying to link up with someone that you may have never seen, planned or briefed with, like the reconnaissance and surveillance teams we met during the night STX.”
It also gave the leaders of the company a good idea on how the planning process would work in a real world situation.
“The aviation element planners at VMM-266 are professionals and they know their doctrine,” said Kemp. “We had to work together come up with a plan the ground combat element could execute and the ACE could support based on the time energy, and focus required for completing the evolution.”
The training also allowed the company to utilize, train with and take advantage of various military attachments including combat engineers and counter-intelligence Marines.
“Our abilities give the company a variety of skill sets that prove to be very beneficial,” said Sgt. Tyler J. Byfield, a Mount Vernon, Wash., native, and combat engineer squad leader, BLT 3/2. “Our explosives and breaching techniques allow us to gain entry into buildings quicker reducing the time Marines are exposed in the open. Our assets can also detect IEDs and booby traps quicker than the normal infantry Marines. It is much safer using our techniques. The violence of action – surprise – while breaching allows us to confuse the enemy, which in result lowers their moral.”
As with every training exercise in the military, learning is always an important factor.
“I think the Marines of India Company put forth a lot of effort,” said Kemp. “You learn a lot more from things you don’t get right than you do from things you do get right. We had a lot of valuable lessons learned from things we recognized and things SOTG helped us recognize. Like most things, if you put a challenge out to Marines they are going to execute. Marines want to be tactically proficient and technically sound, so we had a good opportunity to work on that during this raid package.”
This course was one of three raid packages instructed by SOTG in order to help fulfill requirements from the 26th MEU’s mission essential task list. The 26th MEU is slated to deploy in 2013.