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Marines with the Force Reconnaissance Platoon, part of the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepare for the explosive breach on the entrance of a notional enemy-held building during a capture or kill raid exercise here, Jan. 5. Part of a semiannual training package, the MRF is evaluated and critiqued by Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Photo by Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

31st MEU's Maritime Raid Force surgically strikes building during notional raid

5 Jan 2013 | Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

When they hit a target, they sweep through it with time-tempered precision, making split-second decisions that could mean the life and death of the team. Years of training culminate into minutes of action as the specialized force executes their mission.

The Maritime Raid Force of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a capture or kill raid exercise utilizing an empty structure here, Jan. 5.

As the 31st MEU’s special operations asset, the MRF carries out specialized raids against time sensitive targets. The MRF consists of a security element from Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 31st MEU, an assault force consisting of the Force Reconnaissance Platoon, and surveillance and sniper assets provided by the Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon.

“We bring surgical shooting and a set of precise procedures to the operation,” said a corporal with the FRP. “The platoons of the MRF are called upon when there’s a high level of importance attached to a mission that the outcome could affect future operations.”

Notional enemies inside the target building with simulation ammunition stood between the FRP and a high-value individual. The FRP inserted via CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter and made their way toward the building while being covered by the security element.

Elements of III Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group and 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion were present as evaluators, monitoring the tactics and procedures of the mission.

“They know what to do when it comes to these types of missions, so we’re obviously not guiding them through,” said Sgt. Johnathan Beck, training chief with 3rd Recon Bn, III MEF. “We’re looking for breaching procedures, shot placement, effective communication, et cetera, and bring that back to them afterward for reflection and improvement.”

Using an explosive charge to gain entry to the building, the FRP Marines blitzed through the rooms, removing resistance with accurate fire and eventually locating the HVI in a rear storage area. After questioning the HVI, members conducted tactical site exploitation for intelligence for potential follow-on missions. Afterward, the FRP moved back to the landing zone for extraction under the cover of the BLT security team.

With the raid completed, the evaluators with SOTG and 3rd Recon will draft a performance summary to the MRF leadership, providing them with lessons learned and areas for improvement as they plan for their next training exercise.

“These guys are what make the 31st MEU capable to conduct limited special operations missions, providing a direct-action mastery to go alongside the amphibious assault and humanitarian relief operations,” said Beck, a native of Yadkinville, N.C. “The MRF rounds out the MEU for whatever it may be called out to do.”

The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit