KIN BLUE TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan --
They approach from the sea under the cover of darkness. The crashing waves mask the sound of their engines as they near the shoreline. More than a dozen small, rubber craft prepare to unleash Marines for a surprise assault.
This is the mission Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, also called the MEU’s “Boat Company.”
To prepare the Marines and Sailors of Boat Company for their mission, they recently spent the day using Combat Rubber Raiding Craft to practice landing techniques. Until their arrival in Okinawa, equipment issues had kept the company from this type of training for months.
“We are out here practicing the basics of landing a raid force on the beach,” said Lance Cpl. Gregory A. Gute, a scout swimmer with 1st Platoon, Company A, BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “We were starting from 1100 meters offshore and finished by securing the beach.”
The Marines were able to polish their skills as they conducted the drill multiple times, each time focusing on standard operating procedures and coordination of command and control.
“The Marines did really well today,” said Capt. Jonathan Joannides, a Minnesota native and commanding officer of Company A. “They knew how to do everything we have to do during an operation. It was just a matter of getting back to the basics.”
As the day progressed and more landing drills were completed, the Marines were able to focus more on their technical skills like the crew’s actions within the boat and details of the assault once on land.
“We were really just trying to ensure everyone was on the same page today, and by the end we had fundamentally refreshed our skills. Our boat crews were operating smoothly as a team,” said Joannides.
Joannides went on to say the Marines specialize in conducting what is known as clandestine landings. They are typically launched from ships and come off the horizon towards the shore.
“During an actual operation we would be doing this at night to utilize the dark as our cover because of the vulnerability of our boats,” said Joannides. “Today we are practicing during the day to get back that muscle memory, and ensure the successful completion of future operations.”
1st Platoon, Company A, is currently preparing to support the 31st MEU during its next deployment.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.