Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
U.S. Marines with the Maritime Raid Force (MRF), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conduct sustainment jumps during Realistic Urban Training (RUT) Aug. 16, 2017. RUT is an exercise that provides the opportunity for the 26th MEU to integrate all elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) in a simulated forward-deployed environment to maintain proficiency in challenging and unfamiliar terrain.
The event started with sustainment jumps focusing on military free fall to ensure the MRF maintains their parachuting capability in preparation for deployment. The training consisted of Marines jumping from altitudes of 1,500 to 10,000 feet from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft to simulate tactical insertion from the sky.
“Today we are conducting air operations [training] to maintain currency for an upcoming deployment,” said Sgt. Nicholas S. Santana, an airborne and air delivery specialist with the unit. “The [purpose] for jumping is to provide the capability for the MRF Marines to insert behind enemy lines. This is very important because we are going to be forward-deployed, and if the mission requires, we can get Marines on the ground very quickly.”
This type of capability is important to maintain the unit’s expeditionary readiness; it also provides the capability of inserting Marines quietly and efficiently behind enemy lines.
“Jumping is a skill that can be lost,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Callicoat, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman with MRF. “This is why we need to maintain proficiency. We offer the MEU a wide capability for clandestine insertion methods which is the most efficient way of insert.”
As with all training conducted by the Marine Corps, Safety is always paramount. Procedures and inspections are conducted to ensure everyone is safe when it comes to training or missions.
“We inspect every aspect of the equipment twice to ensure proper rigging and function,” said Master Sgt. Lawrence Oconnor, an operations chief with the MRF. “We take care of every Marine prior to departure. The unit is training in a high operational tempo, just as they would when deployed.”
The 26th MEU remains ready to respond to contingencies around the world from humanitarian relief to combat operations. This type of training is crucial to maintain the unit efficiency and the MEU’s overall proficiency as a MAGTF.
Callicoat said this type of capability increases the MEU’s lethality by allowing more options to insert for intelligence gathering in clandestine operations and provide the command element with valuable information critical to any mission.
The MRF consists of a group of Marines specifically trained in a variety of military occupational specialties able to conduct specialized maritime operations providing versatile capabilities to the 26th MEU in a spectrum of operations current to today’s conflicts.