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U.S. Marines with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Battalion Landing Team, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU), provide security while conducting loading exercises with the Internally Transportable Vehicle on a CH-53 Super Stallion with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st MEU, during training events at Landing Zone Swan. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s expeditionary force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Steve Acuff

Technical, tactical training keeps 31st MEU ready for expeditionary operations

30 Aug 2011 | Written by Lance Cpl. Tyler C. Vernaza

When the mission calls the Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, are ready to respond anytime, anywhere. It is the constant, integrated training conducted by the unit that keeps the 31st MEU in its heightened state of readiness.

Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced) conducted an internally transportable vehicle movement and rapid offload exercise, on Kin Blue Aug. 30.

Marines with BLT 2/7, part of 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, departed Camp Hansen for Landing Zone Swan with the ITV and two fire-teams of Marines.

Marines with HMM-265 (REIN), who are also attached to the 31st MEU as the Air Combat Element, provided the aircraft.

Before the on load and offload portion began, the Marines simulated assembling and driving the ITVs from a CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter.

Because the ITV is relatively new to the Marine Corps, the Marines don’t pass up opportunities to learn more about it.

Production of the ITV began in 2008, and only in the last year has it become an asset to the Marine Corps. Although it is not an armored vehicle, it has unique capabilities that are useful to the many contingency operations undertaken by the 31st MEU.

“The ITV can be internally transported via CH-53E Sea Stallion or MV-22 Osprey. Which gives it its name, internally transportable vehicle,” said Staff Sgt. Ira Prahl, weapons platoon sergeant, BLT, 2/7. “Because it is not an armored vehicle, it would not be used in a combat environment but is perfect for the 31st MEU’s mission.

” Practical applications for the ITV include reconnaissance, re-supply, casualty evacuations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations which are many of the missions that the 31st MEU respond to. However, the vehicle is fitted with a machine gun attachment, keeping the Marines ready in any clime and place.

Although it is not probable for large scale insertions, the ITV is ideal in areas where a humvee or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle would be to conspicuous like heavily populated areas or villages.

During the training, Marines loaded the ITV onto the CH-53, took off for a short time and landed back at the LZ to simulate arrival at their destination. The Marines quickly exited the helo to prepare the vehicle for use.

The ITV appears as a normal convertible truck when offloaded, but once the Marines unhook a few straps and insert a few pins, a roll-cage unfolds and a windshield and mirrors complete the ITV making it mission capable.

The ITV is a relatively easy vehicle to transport and can be set up in less than 3 minutes allowing the Marines to get where they are needed as quickly as possible.

“Timeliness is vital … The faster we can get on the ground and moving to our destination the better,” said Capt. Richard McKenzie, commanding officer, echo company, BLT, 2/7.

Wherever the mission calls the Marines, the ACE is able to transport men, weapons and equipment in a hurry. The Marines with HMM-265 (REIN), the Air Combat Element of the 31st MEU, provide rapid transport of the ITV’s wherever they need to go.

“The ACE is vital to our mission with the 31st MEU in terms of the rapid deployment of ground forces,” said McKenzie. “Each element is crucial to the readiness of the 31st MEU.”

The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s expeditionary force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific Region.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit