CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan --
Illuminated only by the few rays of moonlight that broke through the thick cloud cover, and with the sounds of their engines muffled by the distant thunder, the Marines pushed towards the beach in their amphibious assault vehicles.
As they hit the beach, they moved into position to launch a two-pronged attack, and quickly sped onto roads that lead to their objectives. One element broke off and headed towards the northern objective, where they would begin sweeping to the south. The next headed to the southern objective, where they would push north.
Marines and Sailors with Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a mock amphibious raid, Oct. 14.
“Utilizing the speed and mobility of the AAV’s, we conducted a raid on two towns,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Clay, the executive officer of Company G, BLT 2/7, 31st MEU. “One element moved to the north and cleared from east to west, the other moved from the south and cleared from south to north.”
Their objectives: Capture two high value targets believed to be the leaders of a terrorist organization.
As the Marines entered the targeted towns, they ran into light resistance as they searched for the enemy. In less than 30 minutes the Marines had secured the town and were heading back to the USS Denver.
Between the thunderstorms that hindered communication, and the jungle terrain that was unfamiliar to most of the Marines, Company G had many challenges to overcome.
“The biggest challenge we had was our equipment,” said Clay. “During the thunderstorm our communication systems went down. It was because of good small unit leadership that we still accomplished our mission.”
Aiding the Marines throughout the raid was the night vision equipment they all carried. With the help of the NVG’s, the Marines were able to overcome operating in a low-light environment, a very different experience than most were used to.
“Our individual violence of action carried the day, as far as executing on the objective area,” said Clay.
Between the skills that the Marines were able to practice and the challenges they had to overcome, all of them benefited from the training experience.
“This is only the first or second time for some of the junior Marines doing a raid from ship to shore,” said Cpl. Caleb S. Walcott, a squad leader with G Co., BLT 2/7, 31st MEU. “Hopefully they can take what they did last night; clearing the buildings at night, communicating with other squads to accomplish the mission and everything else that goes into the completion of a raid and pass it to their Marines down the road.”
It is the experience that is gained and passed on to other Marines that helps ensure the 31st MEU is prepared to conduct amphibious operations.
“Having an amphibious mechanized raid capability is good for the MEU to have,” said Clay. “When you talk about the applicability of the MEU in today’s uncertain environment around the world, the ability of coming from ship to shore like this is definitely important.”
As the raid concluded, the Marines looked back on what they had accomplished.
“I think it went well, said Clay. “The Marines haven’t conducted an operation at night for a while, and they were all anxious to get a real mission.”
The amphibious raid was the final exercise to be conducted during the 31st MEU’s certification exercise. CERTEX ensures that the 31st MEU is ready and able to conduct a wide variety of operations ranging from noncombatant evacuation operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, amphibious raids and assaults, theater security operations and humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.
The 31st MEU is the nation’s only continually forward deployed MEU, and remains a force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.