CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan --
Marines from Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force, became the first Marines to complete a five-day Assault Climber Refresher course at Range 19 on Camp Hansen Aug. 20.
The Assault Climber Refresher course is designed to give Marines the ability to gain entrance to building complexes. This was the first time an Assault Climber Refresher course has been held on Okinawa, according to Sgt. Rodrigo S. Ugalde, an environmental warfare section instructor from Environmental Warfare Branch, Special Operations Training Group, III MEF.
"We were just brushing up on training we already have had," said 2nd Lt. Gregory W. Sheaffer, the platoon commander for Company B, BLT 1/7.
The purpose of training was for the 17 Marines to refamiliarize themselves with the techniques they learned during a five-week Assault Climber course in the U.S. five months ago before deploying with the MEU as part of the Unit Deployment Program. During the stateside course, Marines were taught how to operate in an urban or jungle environment, according to Sheaffer.
Here, Marines received refreshers on those techniques which include tying knots, rope techniques and mechanized systems involving hooks, pulleys and rope ladders.
Ugalde and two other SOTG Marines observed Sheaffer and his Marine's efforts throughout the training, offering advice when needed.
"The success of this training was based entirely on the initiative of the MEU Marines," said Ugalde. "We were just here to observe and make sure systems were applied safely and properly, orienting the Marines on how to take care of problems if they seemed to be having issues."
Other aspects of the training included practicing jungle maneuvers and the use of proper rigging systems to overcome obstacles. The final stages of the training were devoted to gaining entrance to the building complex using the techniques taught.
The Marines used grappling hooks, rope ladders, pipes, building ledges and each other's bodies to find ways to get into the upper floor of the building.
Okinawa's dense jungle also offers good terrain climbing and the range here is good for urban climbing. "We don't have anything like it back in the (United States)," said Sheaffer. "All together the training was really good and the Marines worked hard."
"The Marines here performed very well," said Ugalde. "As long as the MEU is willing to send people we will definitely try to keep doing this kind of training."