FRESHWATER BEACH, Queensland, Australia --
As more than 15 amphibious assault vehicles charged out of the sea here this morning, Marines and Sailors of Company G., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, inside the vehicles prepared to spring into action.
Elements of the 31st MEU, in close cooperation with Australian Defence Forces, conducted a mock amphibious assault on Freshwater Beach, in Queensland, Australia, July 19 as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011.
From the first amphibious assault on March 3, 1776 in New Providence, the Bahamas; the island hopping campaign of World War II, to the landing in Inchon, Korea, the Marine Corps has perfected its amphibious doctrine and continues to prove its worth time and time again.
During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Marine Corps was prepared to conduct an opposed amphibious landing, but the force was instead utilized as a bluff.
Due to the well-known amphibious capabilities of the Corps, the bluff proved to be a major contributing factor in the invasion’s success by drawing the attention of Iraqi forces to defend the coastline.
The Marine Corps continues to provide America with this unique amphibious capability. Today it was demonstrated with approximately 350 Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU as they departed the dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) in the early hours of the morning and headed for the Australian coastline.
“It is quite a rush to be in the tracks [AAVs],” said Pfc. Dominic Hanson. “You are in complete darkness inside, and you can feel the vehicle hits the beach and come ashore. The ramp comes down and you go from darkness to bright light - it is quite an adrenalin rush.”
The Marines jumped out of their vehicles, set a defensive perimeter, and then quickly moved up into the thick Australian bush to find the enemy.
“Today we are securing a beachhead here, and next we are going to push inland and seize an airfield,” said 1st Lt. Sean Dixon, weapons platoon commander, Company G., BLT 2/7, 31st MEU. “The assault is going well thus far, we have not encountered any opposing forces so far but are well prepared if we do.”
As the beach was found to be clear of enemy activity, three U.S. Navy landing craft, air cushioned, roared ashore and unloaded additional security and logistics elements of the MEU. Marines, Sailors and vehicles with Combat Logistics Battalion 31 and combined anti-armor teams quickly followed in trace of the lead elements.
During the assault, the Marines and Sailors executed actions that they had been practicing for quite some time, and many of their skills will help them in a future Afghanistan deployment, said Dixon. “We’ve also been training for many different types of situations, and we are doing a deliberate assault today. We are supposed to deploy next fall, so this helps us focus on small unit leadership, the company landing team concept, and controlling our own area of operations.”
The Australian Defence Forces viewing the Marines conducting the amphibious assault learned from the experience as well.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to train with one of our most important allies," said Australian Defence Force Brigadier Bob Brown, spokesman for the exercise. "There are many contingencies that we train for at Talisman Sabre, from high-end war-fighting all the way to peace enforcement and humanitarian assistance. The Marines are renowned for their ability to project power across the beach, and they have an enduring history in that regard."
As the Marines pushed forward towards their objectives, they maintained a high level of motivation and knew it wouldn’t be long until they encountered the opposition forces.
“We’ve been out here for a few days getting ready digging fighting positions for our ambushes. Every time we get a warning, we all get up and get ready, everyone is waiting to see what is coming,” said Army 1st Lt. Joseph Shane, with the 2-23 Infantry Stryker Brigade based out of Fort Lewis, Wash., who is role-playing with the opposing force. “It sounds pretty mean from the reports coming in. I think we’ll be able to hold our own for a little while, but it is not going to be easy. There would definitely be some degree of concern for anyone in our position who might be facing the Marines coming toward them from the beach.”
TS11 is the largest joint military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force. Around 14,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian personnel will participate.
This exercise provides an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined and joint environment that will increase both countries’ bilateral war-fighting capabilities to respond to crises and provide humanitarian assistance. It will also increase interoperability, flexibility, and readiness, all of which are force multipliers in maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.