KIN BLUE, OKINAWA, Japan --
Appearing as dots on the horizon, the combat rubber raiding craft silently moved to 1100 meters offshore. Once they were in position, the scout swimmers entered the water and pushed towards the shore to clear the path for the rest of the landing force.
Marines with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a small boat raid here, Jan. 29.
Once the scout swimmers had established security on the beach, they signaled the landing force that delivered more than 150 combat ready Marines to the fight within a matter of minutes.
The Marines hit the beach in three sequential waves and pulled the combat rubber raiding craft ashore. The Marines pushed towards their objective, which was a helicopter landing zone, in a swift and synchronized fashion.
Upon reaching the objective they instantaneously began taking small arms fire from multiple enemy positions. Reacting as one, the Marines pushed forward, eliminated the enemy role players, seized a weapons cache and secured the objective area.
“We conducted a daytime small boat raid in support of Amphibious Integration Training with the Navy,” said Capt. Jonathan Joannides, company commander of Company A, BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “During an actual operation this would be conducted at night, but conducting it during the day lays down a firm foundation to build off of as we prepare for night operations.”
For many of the Marines participating, this raid marked the first time they had ever launched from the back of a moving amphibious vessel.
“The Marines definitely learned something new,” said Joannides. “We launched from the USS Tortuga, which was kind of a hair raising experience because this is the first time they came out of the back of a ship. It was good to practice because they learned how to launch more smoothly.”
According to Joannides, the training also helped improve the Marines confidence of their ability to successfully complete the mission.
“This improves confidence in their ability to do things for real because during a real operation they have to fall back on their training,” said Joannides. “This allows them to perfect the standard operating procedures that would be used during an actual operation.”
As the Marines secured the objective and prepared to move back to the ship, they had a moment to reflect on how they had done.
“The Marines all reacted pretty well when they started taking fire,” said Sgt. Nichllas Szczerba, a squad leader with Company A, BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “There were definitely some lessons learned, and we will go over some things and how we can improve them, but the Marines did well and were happy to be able to get out here and do what Marines do.”
The Marines conducted this training with the USS Tortuga (LSD 46) in support as part of AIT in preparation for Exercise Cobra Gold 2012.
The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the nation's force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.