USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD 6), Pacific Ocean --
As the dedicated force for Sea Dragon 2025 – a Marine Corps initiative to prepare Marines for the battlefield of the future – BLT 3/5 is using Talisman Saber to test state-of-the-art concepts and technologies. The concepts that prove successful may shape the way future Marines fights our nation’s enemies or provide relief to those in need.
The Ospreys belong to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), part of the Aviation Combat Element of the 31st MEU. The ACE provides fixed wing, rotary wing and tiltrotor aircraft to support the Marines of the 31st MEU, whatever the mission, whether they’re delivering bombs or blankets.
Talisman Saber is a biennial exercise designed to improve the interoperability between Australian and U.S. forces, including the team-based crisis response so often needed in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Training with the Australian military strengthens the partnership between Australia and the United States, both longstanding forces of peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
During Talisman Saber, Kilo Company, BLT 3/5’s helicopter raid company, will conduct operations with their Australian Defence Force counterparts while ashore.
“Our purpose is to support the MEU’s mission on the ground,” said 1st Lt. Adam Belasco, a platoon commander with Kilo Company. “We will begin the MEU’s movement ashore and set up for the other companies and our Aussie partners to play their part in Talisman Saber.”
Running the company through the paces allowed Kilo Company Marines to get some reps in before going ashore.
“The training was simply to make sure everyone involved knew where they had to be and when,” said Belasco.
“Strapping into the Osprey with flak, helmet, rifle and a pack is difficult in itself,” said Sgt. John Benavides, a squad leader with the company. “Add the weight of crew-served weapons, like the M240B [medium machine gun], and it becomes a challenge to move and maneuver aboard ship and onto the Ospreys. This training helped us, especially some of our more junior Marines, prepare for the movement from ship to shore.”
The 31st MEU is taking part in Talisman Saber while deployed on a regularly-scheduled patrol of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, partnered with the Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 11 to form the amphibious component of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. The 31st MEU and PHIBRON 11 combine to provide a cohesive blue-green team capable of accomplishing a variety of missions throughout the region.