CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan (Aug. 17, 2010) --
Marine Expeditionary Units throughout the Marine Corps must be capable of rapid insertion and extraction while executing specialized raids. Marines and sailors with Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU, conducted a helicopter raid at Landing Zone Snipe, Aug. 12.
Each line company within a BLT serves as either boat, helicopter or track company. Boat Company Marines are mainly transported via Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts, while Track Company comes by way of Amphibious Assault Vehicles. Helicopter Company uses Ch-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and are trained to fast rope to an objective when landing the aircraft is not an option.
“Helo Company offers a MEU the option to deploy troops in more isolated, inland positions,” said 1st Lt. Jeremiah Adams, Co. C Executive Officer. “Other companies can carry heavier fire power but can only arrive on beaches.”
A total of nine helicopters were used during the exercise; six Sea Knights, one Super Stallion, two AH-1 Cobra Attack helicopters and one UH-1N Huey, all from the MEU’s Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262. The Sea Knights, Super Stallion and Huey were used for transport, while the cobras were used as fire support.
The mission was set as a soft hit, meaning the troops would land away from the objective to use the element of surprise. Marines arrived at the landing zone and patrolled to their objective in squads. The squads were comprised of security, assault and support elements. The mission consisted of about one hundred service members securing a small village and locating enemy insurgents. The Marines were also tasked with gathering as much intelligence information on the enemy combatants as possible.
According to Adams, the mission of a helicopter company is to give the MEU commander a more versatile, light infantry force.
“We are meant to strike with speed and stealth,” said the Columbus, Ohio native. “Even though we don’t have as much fire power we are able to initiate contact with accuracy and precision.”
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.