COMBAT TOWN, Okinawa, Japan -- "Enemy in sight." These words were passed down to the platoon commander, crouching in the tree line alongside dozens of Marines. Only one word came in response: "Engage."
This was the prelude to Company G's assault on a notional town held by enemy forces. The Marines of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, infiltrated the urban combat training facility here, Aug. 9.
Inserting via CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), rifle squads disembarked at their landing zone 700 meters from the town, securing the area before moving to execute their mission.
"As the assault element, we're the first ones in to clear any immediate enemy presence for the rest of our forces," said Sgt. Victor Rodriguez, squad leader with 1st platoon, Co. G., BLT 2/1, 31st MEU and native of Oceanside, Calif.. "Our objective is to return control of the town to the local police force."
Sweeping in from various points of the village's perimeter, the Marines secured the outermost buildings and neutralized enemy personnel in a matter of minutes. The raid required more precision than firepower, with the threat of improvised explosive devices as well as the task to kill or capture a high-value individual suspected in the area.
"The HVI could be able to tell us where any IEDs are, which would obviously be in our best interests to know early on," said Lance Cpl. Mitchell Emery, squad automatic weapon gunner with 2nd Plt., Co. G., BLT 2/1, 31st MEU and native of Midlothian, Texas.
After gaining control of a few more buildings, the HVI was taken alive, and provided valuable intelligence on IED locations and enemy troop disposition. The Marines used this information to quickly overcome the remaining enemy forces and secure the entire facility.
Less than three hours after landing outside of the village, the Marines returned control of the notional town to the local police force. All enemy personnel had been killed or captured, and the Marines, suffering zero casualties, egressed to the landing zone to wait for the incoming helicopters.
From the first step off the helicopter during insertion to the signal of “last man” boarding the helicopter to leave, the Marines of Company G. completed every step as if the scenario were real.
"We don't rehearse these raids just to showcase them to other military forces on deployment," said Lance Cpl. Richard Good,a rifleman with 2nd platoon, Co. G., BLT 2/1, 31st MEU, and a native of Houston, Texas. "All this is in preparation for any real-world use for us. We train to fight, not notionally."
The helicopter raid was part of the 31st MEU's pre-deployment training package involving all components of the 31st MEU.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps' force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.