IE SHIMA, Japan --
A small force of anti-government extremists take hold of a valuable airfield and entrench themselves for a long stay. They are prepared to hold against government police forces, but unfortunately for them, the government called in the Marines.
Marines and Sailors with Company C., Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a helicopter assault here, March 14. Helicopters of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st MEU, inserted the assault force onto the island.
The 31st MEU’s “Helo Company” conducted the attack at an airfield with a small collection of structures defended by more than a dozen role players. The use of “blank” rounds and a simulated enemy force added realism to the training, but the company-sized element was able to quickly overwhelm the enemy and seize the objective.
“The training had a good degree of realism to it, being that the enemy was composed of infantry Marines fighting back for training purposes,” said 1st Lt. Greg R. Jaunal, a platoon commander with Company C., BLT 1/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Baton Rouge, La. “With two CH-53E Super Stallions and six CH-46E Sea Knights housing 89 Marines and Sailors, combined with the support of two Light Skinned Vehicles, we filled the landing zone with the complete fire power needed for the operation.”
After clearing the airfield, Marines stacked outside the doors of the enemy structures. Intelligence gathered prior to the operation made them weary of the threat of improvised explosive devices. The explosive ordinance disposal technicians attached to the company were called up and once again demonstrated their unique expertise.
“While proceeding through the enemy compound, my squad encountered very challenging IED simulators staged by (Special Operations Training Group),” said Staff Sgt. Logan A. Mills, an explosive ordnance disposal technician for the 31st MEU and a native of Houston, Texas. “This training really pushed me outside of my limits; it ensured that I stayed on my toes and constantly refer to my prior experience.”
Once the structures were deemed clear, the company moved to eliminate enemy forces from the outer edges of the airfield. The abundance of trees in the area served as both a challenge and advantage for the attacking force.
“The company moved and engaged the enemy targets from behind the cover of the trees,” said Lance Cpl. Jason R. Dunn, a rifleman with Company C., BLT 1/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Tehachapi, Calif. “When you have a lot of obstacles like that to take cover behind, it’s good for protection, but it also gives the enemy the same advantage.”
Once EOD mitigated the IED threat, the company established security for the airfield and began to set up a base camp. A secured airfield provides the MEU a land-based platform for launching a number of other operations. Long distance raids, non-combatant evacuation, and humanitarian aid operations are just a few of the missions that the 31st MEU would be able to execute from the airfield.
“This airfield gives the MEU a forward staging area to finish the training scenarios given to us by SOTG,” said Jaunal.
The 31st MEU is currently conducting its semiannual CERTEX, an event evaluated by SOTG, III Marine Expeditionary Force, to ensure the 31st MEU maintains proficiency in its full spectrum of capabilities for real world operations.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.