SHOALWATER BAY TRAINING, Australia (July 20, 2009) – --
The chilly pre-dawn silence along the Australian coast was broken recently as Australian Defence Force members, and Marines and sailors from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a mock amphibious assault, displaying the MEU’s over-the horizon capability and projecting power more than 1,500 meters from ship to shore, July 15.
Company L, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st MEU left the forward-deployed Austin class amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver and traveled through Aussie surf aboard Amphibious Assault Vehicles until they pulled onto the beach, where the vehicles relinquished more than 200 camouflaged warriors to begin patrolling the shore.
The mission for the day was to secure and clear the beach of any potential enemy threat. Fire teams cleared their designated section of the beach as other Marines and sailors rushed the beach, pushing inland a few precious feet at a time.
Once the beach was secured, U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushions, carrying Marines and sailors from Weapons Company, BLT 3/5, left the well deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2). After coming ashore and linking up with their counterparts, Weapons Co. rumbled over the sand in Light Armored Assault Vehicles and began to push further inland.
According to Gunnery Sgt. Jason Benedict, L Co. company gunnery sergeant, amphibious assaults are one of the Marine Corps’ core operational doctrines, and this type of training serves to remind Marines’ of their history.
“These assaults are a part of our roots. This type of mission has been one of our calling cards since the beginning,” said the Woodland, N.J. native. “Marines of today can’t loose sight of something so important to our Corps.”
1st Lt. Marco Rossi, L Co. executive officer, said the operation went smoothly.
“Sometimes during this type of mission, we will come in contact with a surprise objective or a minor problem and we have to adapt and overcome to succeed,” said Rossi. “Luckily we didn’t run into anything like that today and had almost ideal conditions.”
The amphibious assault was one of the first objectives of BLT 3/5 during Exercise Talisman Saber 2009. According to Australian Army Brigadier Bob Brown, TS ’09 spokesperson, the amphibious assault is a key element in the exercise.
“The amphibious operation requires critical timing and exacting communications between the Australian and U.S. elements in order to be a success,” Brown said. “There are few greater examples in combat operations that demonstrate interoperability between forces so clearly.”
As the MEU’s westward push continues, Marines, sailors and ADF service members will encounter numerous exercise scenarios including humanitarian assistance missions, non-combatant evacuation operations and insurgent activity both in the urban terrain of the ADF’s Urban Operations Training Facility and throughout the wooded hills of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
As they patrol to their destinations the coalition forces will also encounter obstacles and threats such as mock improvised explosive devices, which were set by the enemy forces comprised of service members from various U.S. and Australian armed forces.
TS ’09 is a biennial combined training activity designed to train Australian and U.S. forces in planning and conducting combined task force operations, which will help improve combined readiness and interoperability.