CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan --
Silent and unseen, Marines in small, rubber craft cut through choppy waters and land on a beach uncontested. Boat Company has landed, and ready to close with and destroy the objective.
Marines and Sailors with Company F., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a clandestine boat raid exercise here, August 10.
Under the cover of darkness and aboard combat rubber raiding craft, the Marines are able to conduct amphibious raids from ship to shore with stealth. Moving an entire company of Marines into enemy territory, without being noticed, is a challenging task.
“When the situation arises that we have to use this training in a real situation, we better have the kinks worked out,” said Pfc. Eduardo A. Bravo, a rifleman with Co. F., BLT 2/1, and a native of Santa Ana, Calif. “Conducting this at night while looking through night vision devices is difficult.”
The other companies of BLT 2/1 wield amphibious assault vehicles and helicopters for their means of attack, utilizing force and firepower to bring Marines to the fight. The swift and silent nature of Boat Co. provides a different approach for the 31st MEU’s ground combat element.
“Since we are able to get in and get out fast, we bring the element of surprise to the table within the MEU’s capabilities,” said Sgt. Miguel A. Gamboa, a squad leader with Co. F., BLT 2/1 and a native of Friona, Texas.
Inserting onto the beach by crawling with the waves, reconnaissance swimmers clear the immediate area of any hostile presence, allowing for a safe landing of the boats. After adjusting weapons and gear, the Marines then move toward the objective to complete their mission.
Although the Marines of Boat Co. make the raid look easy, the intricacies that go into conducting such an operation, with the added variable of darkness, take many hours spent practicing to perfect.
"The skills to complete a clandestine boat raid do not come without dedicating enormous time and effort, and going over every moving part,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. O’Connor, a fire team leader with Co. F., BLT 2/1 and a native of Tehachapi, Calif. The Marines have conducted many raids and spent hours on the boats to polish their skills. They train as they would fight.
This boat raid is a training event amongst several others aimed at preparing the 31st MEU for deployment within the Asia-Pacific region.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU, and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.