Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BLT 1/1 trains for future with Special Operations Training Group

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - When Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 1st Marines deploys with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit next year, its Marines and sailors could find themselves raiding multiple enemy camps, neutralizing enemy fighters on ships and other various mission sets.

During the months of August and September, BLT 1/1 trained from a wide range courses offered through the Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Marine Expeditionary Unit’s who have Marines formally trained for these missions, operate not just as a MEU but as a MEU Special Operations Capable.

“In order to get certain Special Operations Capable qualifications, the Marines need to go through specific courses with SOTG,” said Will Redman, the close quarters tactics lead instructor with SOTG. “The benefit is that it gives the MEU that asset that they normally don’t have and a capability for their commanders.”

Aircrew from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced) support helicopter raid training, bringing to bear several CH-53E “Super Stallions” and CH-46E “Sea Knights” for transporting an entire company of Marines. Pilots in AH-1W “Super Cobras” provided simulated close air support and intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance to clear the way for assault support elements.

“This training gives us an opportunity to work with the ground side, understand their capabilities and build a working relationship before we deploy,” said Capt. Justin W. May, a Super Stallion pilot with HMM-163 (Rein).

Marines from throughout the BLT posed as foreign nationals, enemy combatants and high value individuals during the training. The mock combatants fired blank ammunition from AK-47’s while wearing garbs similar to those worn by insurgents. Instructors supervised the use of simulated rocket propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and mortar fire to bring a safe level of realism to the training.

“During the training we do what the instructors ask us, whether it’s running up and down a trench or fire bursts of blank ammo,” said Lance Cpl. Donall Rowe, a mortarman with Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, BLT 1/1. “But we try and think of ways to confuse or slow down the Marines’ advance during the raids. We do things like planting simulated IED’s or put snipers hiding in the tree line. The better we do our job, the more prepared they will be.”

Since the Marines began the training, they have had the chance to perfect their tactics.

“We’ve gotten some real good training in,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Duerschmidt, a fire team leader with 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, BLT 1/1. “This is some of the best close quarters training we’ve had, especially with the live fire shooting in the shoot house.”

A team of instructors took note of the way the Marines conducted their raids, critiquing how they operated and whether they applied what they learned.

“All the [grading] is critiquing points for them to learn and build off of,” said Staff Sgt. David A. Cleaves, the chief raid instructor with SOTG, I MEF. “This is a flat across the board grading scale for all the companies and raid forces that come down here and it puts everyone on the same sheet of music. It’s not one instructor’s point of view.”

Having completed the course syllabus, the Marines and sailors of BLT 1/1 will not only help make up a Marine Air Ground Task Force but a Special Purpose MAGTF as the 13th MEU becomes Special Operations Capable.

No comments:

Post a Comment