CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- Hidden among the thick foliage of the Okinawan jungle, a team of scouts relays vital information to the assault force. The enemy is completely oblivious to the platoon of reconnaissance Marines nearby, closing in to ruin their evening.
Marines and Sailors with the Force Reconnaissance Platoon, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a five-week, Close Quarters Tactics course here, from April 22 through May 24.
The CQT course was run by Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, who evaluated the platoon throughout the training. With the certification completed, the platoon stands ready to conduct any mission the 31st MEU may deem necessary during their upcoming patrol.
“The platoon learned the key factors that come into play when a reconnaissance platoon conducts CQT,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Jerew, the special gear and equipment non-commissioned officer with the FRP, 31st MEU, and a native of East Syracuse, N.Y. “Without this training and knowledge, we could not be the force in readiness the commander needs.”
During the five-week course, the students learned the tactics, techniques and procedures of conducting a raid involving CQT. This involves engaging the enemy at very short ranges in a fast, violent assault requiring precision fire and split-second decision making. Dozens of classes and field exercises helped cement the training in the minds of the Marines and Sailors, who learned proven methods and gained realistic experience with high-intensity conflict.
“Busting through doors, clearing buildings and firing off simulation rounds always gives me a rush, and a feeling of what it would be like in a real world situation,” said Petty Officer First Class Ryan J. Hart, a Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman with the FRP, 31st MEU, and a native of Houston, Texas. “Having the whole raid force on the same sheet of music gives us a sense of security, and you can only get that feeling through good training and constant repetition.”
All of the training led the class to their culmination event, which was a night-time raid to test everything they had learned and practiced over the weeks. The platoon used M1161 Growler Internally Transportable Vehicles for a quick insertion and engaged enemy roleplayers with simulation rounds in a warehouse-like structure. Multiple levels, small passages and simulated casualties were a few of the many challenges the platoon faced.
The successful completion of the final, high-risk scenario was a prideful experience for the Marines and Sailors who had dedicated more than a month to improving their skills in CQT.
“We really felt a sense of accomplishment by completing something that was so mentally and physically difficult throughout the span of five weeks,” said Hart. “This training gives us a tactical edge in taking the fight to the enemy on their own turf.”
Although the platoon regularly trains their skills in executing raids, the FRP has a broad spectrum of operating capabilities. From visit, board, search and seizure operations involving vessels at sea to rescue operations involving distressed embassies, the FRP serves as a precision force at the commander's disposal.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.