CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- Stacked together just meters from a highly explosive charge, the Marines brace for the familiar sound and impact of detonation.
Infantry assaultmen from Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted urban mobility breaching here, July 17.
“This training allows our team to do what we were trained to do, get hands on and blow targets up,” said Lance Cpl. Robert L. Slown, an assaultman with Company F., BLT 2/1 and a native of Fort Collins, Colo. “If it was not for great training like this, we would not be prepared when the time came for us to operate.”
Assaultmen serve a number of roles in support of kinetic operations. Their capabilities include clearing mine fields, breaching doors and windows, and engaging targets with the Mark 153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon.
This training focused on breaching and the understanding of which type of explosive charges are appropriate for different situations.
“When the Marines need to breach a door or window, it sometimes calls for a precise charge, targeting a certain point on the entry,” said Sgt. Patrick Hause the section leader for the assault section with Company F., BLT 2/1 and a native of Shirley, Mass.
What explosive is used, and in what method, depends upon the target the team is given. The size and material of the door, as well as the type of lock are determining factors in the decision.
During the training, the assaultmen used plastic explosives, detonations chords, and a variety of emplacement to accomplish the breach. But when it comes to the joy of the assaultmen, it doesn’t matter what charge is used.
“When we are about to breach a building, I always get a rush,” said Slown. “The charges can pack a powerful punch when you’re that close to the explosion.”
As satisfying as the sight of flying debris is to the assaultmen, this audio and visual display is not their signal for a job well done .With their hearts pounding, the Marines join their fellow infantrymen to conduct one of their most dangerous assignments – clearing a structure of enemy personnel. This part of their responsibilities requires knowledge in advanced infantry tactics to complement their expertise in demolitions.
“There is a lot to our job that we have to know and maintain,” said Lance Cpl. Travis J. Reynders, an infantry assaultman with Company F., BLT 2/1 and a native of St. Louis, Mo. “Keeping these skills fresh allows the assaultmen to bring important and precise capabilities to the MEU.”
Knowing the importance of their role, the assaultmen use these training opportunities to ensure their skills are honed to an exceptional level.
“When we come out here to the range, my Marines train with high standards,” said Hause. “When the time comes and my Marines get attached to other platoons, the platoon commander and company commander will have a good sense of confidence in my Marines.”
The 31st MEU is the United States' force in readiness for the Asia Pacific and the Marine Corps' only continuously forward deployed MEU.