26th MEU Force Recon raids SOTG

24 Sep 2004 | Sgt. Roman Yurek 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Enemy forces gather in a seemingly abandoned building, unaware of the silent force preparing to enter from the outside.

A team of Marines sets up in front of the main door.  They set an explosive charge and in seconds, the door is blown and the team moves in.  They move room-by-room, eliminating the enemy threat and securing the building.

This is no Hollywood set, but the work of the Force Reconnaissance Platoon for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The platoon recently spent five weeks training in the Close Quarters Battle Course under the instruction of the II Marine Expeditionary Force Special Operations Training Group.

During the course, the Marines worked on precision raids inside a building.  Some of their training included breaching, urban movement, room clearing and evacuations.

For Marines new to the unit, the training was different from what they learned in their basic school.

At the basic school, Marines learned to be silent and collect information, explained Sgt. H.A. Wirts, a point man for the platoon.  In this course, they learned to find, attack and eliminate an enemy threat.

Besides the added skills, there have been some recent changes in tactics that were also taught during the course, said Gunnery Sgt. Edward J. Lynch, lead instructor for the CQB course.  The course incorporates situations similar to those experienced by forces in Iraq.  This helps add realism to the training, he added.

These Marines have been taking all this new knowledge they are learning and employing it, said Capt. J.A. Moder, the platoon commander.

Along with learning new tactics, Moder said one of his personal challenges was maintaining organization of the teams once inside the building.  His job is to maintain control over the entire platoon as they breach and move room to room.  Since he is with the Headquarters Team, he also has to establish a consolidation point inside the building.  While the other teams move room-to-room, Moder has to rely on radio contact with each team in order to stay aware of the situation as the teams close in on the consolidation point.

The platoon learned a lot of new skills at a fast pace, explained Wirts.  Following the course, training will not stop for the Recon Marines.  They will continue to improve on the skills learned in CQB and then transition to the Maritime Special Purpose Force Interoperability Exercise.  This is where Force Recon and the Recon and Surveillance Platoons will combine their assets for the first time.

The R&S Platoon will gather and submit observational information to the MEU, who will distribute the information to Force Recon.  Force Recon will then use the their CQB training to plan and execute a precision raid on a prescribed target.

The “final exam” for both teams will take place during the Training in an Urban Environment Exercise scheduled to take place in New Orleans in December, added Lynch.  Here the teams will do raids in a city and be evaluated by the SOTG staff.

“The platoon is doing great,” Moder said.  “We have overcome our challenges and executing our mission as a force recon platoon should.”

To learn more about the Force Recon Platoon and the 26th MEU, visit