CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Forming up at their armory long before the sun rose, the Marines and sailors of Company K drew weapons as autumn’s cold winds blew, chilling the company as they shivered and stamped their feet, trying to warm up. Weapons drawn and accountability complete, the Marines hiked out to rendezvous with the Amphibious Assault Vehicles of AAV Platoon – boarding up and riding out to the training site under the cold grey skies as the engines of the vehicles roar in the damp morning.
The company from Battalion Landing Team 3/2, a reinforcement of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is currently taking part in a mechanized raid course, designed to evaluate and certify them in conducting a company-strength assault with tank and AAV support.
The Marines are focusing on refining their training, preparing to conduct their mission under a wide variety of circumstances. “With a MEU, you have to be ready for anything. You could get dropped off in the middle of a jungle. You could get flown to Afghanistan right off the ship,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Walker, chief instructor with the Special Operations Training Group’s mechanized raid course, from Colquitt County, Ga.
The first week of the SOTG course is mostly geared toward refining standard operating procedures. “It gives us the ability to break down into task-specific elements and practice our conduct during the raid,” said 1st Lt. Grant Hundley, the company’s executive officer, from Richmond, Va.
The raid is broken down to three parts. The assault element is comprised of the Marines who will breach and clear the target, subduing or eliminating resistance and sweeping the site for anything of interest. The support element has Marines ready to provide supporting fire, stretcher teams, and other skills required depending on the specifics of a mission.
The third element is the security team, which is comprised of Marines, including the tanks and AAVs that establish security at the site and allow those going in to accomplish their jobs. Together, they comprise the raid package, which can be scaled up or down as the situation requires.
A heavy raid package, complete with its tanks and AAVs, is an incredible amount of firepower to put in one place. “The raid is unique in that the ability to move from ship-to-shore and from shore-to-objective is entirely organic to the MEU,” said Hundley.
“The mechanized raid brings a lot to the MEU’s courses of action when they receive tasking,” said Hundley. A lean and powerful force, Company K will be the MEU’s mechanized raid company, the unit responsible for operating with the heavy iron if a situation requires it. With the completion of the course, these Marines will be able to do just that, applying the right level of force for the task at hand, balancing grace with power. “They have to be able to do it all,” said Walker. “Marines have to train to be ready for anything.”
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.