KIN BLUE, OKINAWA, Japan --
As they race through the water, the zodiac boats slam against harsh waves in almost total darkness. The Marines hold on tightly, but look calm and collected as they navigate the craft to shore, where a simulated enemy awaits.
Marines and sailors from Company B, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a mock boat raid in support of a MEU exercise, Aug. 10.
Approximately 14 Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Crafts filled with Marines and sailors landed about 2 kilometers from a logistics site they were tasked to take control of. Mock opposing forces took cover on hilltops and in the dense jungle terrain. Co. B surrounded them and successfully secured the objective. They conducted tactical site exploitation and once the mission was complete, made their way back to the CRRCs.
The training is designed to replicate real-world scenarios to prepare the troops for challenges they may face as a part of a maritime contingency force.
Scenarios like this also help the desert based unit get acquainted with jungle conditions and the humidity of the region.
“This is completely different than what our desert warriors are used to,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Love, Co. B, Company Gunnery Sergeant. “Most of the senior guys have been to Iraq two or three times, but haven’t experienced life aboard a MEU.”
According to Love, the 31st MEU is the only MEU, out of the seven that exist, that still has a boat company.
“It provides the commander with a specialized skill that will get Marines in and out of an objective quickly and quietly,” he said.
The intense and dynamic training boat company Marines conduct makes the unit strong and builds camaraderie among the service members. Love said every mission a boat company conducts will face challenges, but his Marines are ready. The boats sometimes travel up to 20 nautical miles in open seas. Many problems can occur over the long transit and Marines must be able to adjust and adapt to complete the mission.
“They gain a lot of trust from each other and depend on one another,” Love said. “They have a stronger, tighter unit that makes it easy for mission success.”
The 31st MEU is currently conducting several exercises in preparation for its fall patrol of the Asia-Pacific Region. During its patrol, the unit will train alongside foreign military forces from Japan, Republic of the Philippines and Republic of Korea.