Wednesday, February 9, 2011
SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. – On Nov. 17, under the cover of darkness, Marines and sailors with Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted an amphibious raid on San Clemente Island. This mechanized raid was one of the final events of Composite Training Unit Exercise, the second at-sea exercise designed to prepare the 13th MEU for deployment next year.
More than 180 Marines landed on the island after launching from the USS Green Bay in Amphibious Assault Vehicles, a tank-like craft capable of carrying Marines and supplies from ship to shore.
For this training event, the Marines of Alpha Company had to eliminate the mock enemy who had a foothold on the island. The Marine Corps capability of amphibious operations enables them to easily access strategic chokepoints and areas traditional forces cannot reach.
“Getting Marines to shore is something we’ve been doing since World War II but we have better gear to do it with,” said Lance Cpl. Nathan Mayoras, an AAV driver with Alpha Company, BLT 1/1, 13th MEU. “The same AAV’s we use to transport combat ready troops can transport supplies and medical aid to disaster ridden countries too. It’s a versatile system. We can not only go ashore from ship but, we can also go miles into shore and provide convoy security, casualty evacuation and provide a variety of support to our Marines.”
During the raid, fire teams maneuvered around buildings, shipping containers and other structures in search of enemy combatants. Marines manning light and medium machine guns positioned themselves to provide cover fire.
“The idea behind a raid is you hit hard and fast with a planned extract shortly after completing the objective,” said Capt. Lucas A. Balke, company commander, Alpha Company. “It’s pretty humbling to be a part of this type of capability. Sometimes you get caught up in the planning and we as a Marine Corps have been doing this job for many, many years. But it’s cool to take a moment and think about what we have now to execute the raid. We have the Marines, AAV’s, Tanks, fixed and rotary wing support.”
Amphibious Assault Vehicle crewmembers provided support with heavy machine gun fire from their vehicles. A support by fire element comprised of Marines armed with 60 mm mortars and medium machine guns also helped cover the assault.
“All the training we received with the raid classes and all the training put together in the past months all came into play during this raid,” said Sgt. John Taing, 3rd Squad leader, 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company. “There are always areas to improve on and there are some kinks we have to work out with my Marines. But I think they performed pretty well, I do feel these Marines could close with and destroy the enemy if this were a real-life situation.”
The Marine Corps amphibious capability enabled by a sea-based force is a fundamental component of America’s strategic advantage and its core competency. Since 1982, the United States has conducted more than 100 amphibious operations with the Navy-Marine Corps team on scene in such places as Bangladesh, the Philippines, Liberia, East Timor and Haiti.
Just as past generations of Marines successfully landed on distant shores and took the fight to the enemy, Alpha Company seized the objective, denying the enemy forces a foothold on the island. This exercise gave the Marines and sailors of Alpha Company a chance to prove themselves as warrior ambassadors and demonstrated their capabilities as part of an amphibious force able to reach distant shores from the sea.