KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, Japan --
CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters hovered nearly 30 feet above the ground as Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force prepared to fast-rope during an MRF Raid at Kadena Training Area 1, Aug. 16.
The Marines launched their ropes and swiftly slid down to the pavement. Once they hit the ground, they quickly assembled and moved to their objective. Their task was to secure a building occupied by enemy insurgents.
“The MRF is comprised of elements from the MEU’s amphibious and force reconnaissance platoons, and a security platoon made up of BLT Marines,” said 1st Lt. Derek Shivers, platoon commander, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU. “MRF is used when a high threat needs to be removed,” he added.
The training evolution provided integrated and sustainment training in the areas of breaching, fast-roping, patrolling and close quarters combat. The Ground Combat Element worked alongside the 31st MEU’s Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 Reinforced to accomplish the mission.
Forces used Special Effects Small-Armed Munitions System rounds. SESMs resemble 5.56mm rounds and have a small amount of paint in it, which splatters on contact. The special rounds offer more realistic training for the Marines.
Inside the building the Marines encountered role-players acting as hostile personnel. The force overcame language barriers, checked for identification of captured insurgents and negotiated through locked doors using breaching techniques.
“MRF provides the MEU commander the ability to train alongside other nations and conduct real-world missions on different platforms such as this and visit board search and seizures,” Shivers said.
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, in order to enhance Theater security cooperation.