SNIPE MOUT FACILITY, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines and Sailors with Company E., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, used simulated ammunition and role players to execute a realistic raid of an enemy supply depot here, June 5.
The exercise was part of the 31st MEU’s pre-deployment training package, designed to hone the unit’s skills for their upcoming patrol of the Asia-Pacific region. The company’s notional mission included an attack on an enemy supply depot, elimination of oppositional forces, destruction of recovered weapons and confiscation of useable intelligence material.
While raid training is something the Marines of Co. E. have conducted numerous times, their tried and true battle plans can still fall victim to unforeseen changes.
“Even if a mission seems straightforward, there are so many variables that can change at any time,” said Lance Cpl. Richard C. Epperly, rifleman with Co. E., BLT 2/4, 31st MEU. “We were planning to insert near the objective by (tiltrotor aircraft), but the evening prior the scheme of maneuver changed.”
The original plan called for aerial insertion via MV-22 Ospreys, but 12 hours before actions on target the scenario changed. The Marines needed to insert from the ground. The company quickly altered its battle plan to accommodate the change, executing major adjustments to equipment, personnel and plans.
“Being on a MEU is a completely different beast when it comes to operational planning,” said 2nd Lt. Timothy R. Greene, a platoon commander for Co. E., BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and a native of Garanbury, Texas. “As opposed to the week of deliberate planning, we’re getting mission information only a few hours prior to the time we are slated to go in. It’s geared toward rapid response, which is what MEUs are all about.”
In approximately one hour, the company-sized force smashed through the opposition’s defenses and stormed the compound’s buildings. When the smoke cleared, three enemies were detained, a cache of weapons was destroyed and a map detailing enemy troop information was recovered.
The successful capture of the objective resulted from quick, decisive planning and the ability to adapt to a changing situation. The Marines and Sailors of Co. E. demonstrated adaptability throughout the exercise. The ever-changing scenarios keep raid training fresh and valuable.
“We could conduct 10 raids, but none of them are going to be alike,” said Epperly, a native of Weatherford, Okla. “We can never get enough training because every event will make us think and react differently, and those are skills we need.”
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.