CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- From the rooftops of buildings to the streets winding throughout the base, the Marines tested their skills in nearly every situation they could face in combat.
Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company detachment, along with members of 5th ANGLICO, honed their combat proficiencies during a two-day training event here, Oct. 30-31.
Basic patrolling and security, combat life-saving, landing zone selection, casualty evacuation and “talking-on” close air support were the primary skills practiced during the training. As a support element that can be attached to any Marine unit for nearly any contingency, an intimate understanding of a diverse range of skills is a must.
“As fire supporters, we are expected to be proficient in a wide variety of tasks outside of our primary duties and we must train to many different standards,” said Capt. Jasen E. Lee, a firepower control team leader for the ANGLICO Detachment, 31st MEU.
The first event brought two ANGLICO teams to the rooftops of headquarters buildings, providing them adequate distance and elevated viewpoints for coordination. From their high vantage point, the teams used each other to “talk-on” notional aircraft to a target. Talking-on involves using a reference point, an object or terrain feature, that can be seen by the pilot of the supporting aircraft and the fire controller to ensure both parties positively identify the target.
“Talk-ons can often be complicated, therefore we need to practice them often,” said Lee, a native of San Jose, Calif.
On the second day of training, nearly all of the skills required of ANGLICO Marines were tested in realistic scenarios. The teams donned flak jackets and Kevlar helmets, grabbed their radios and rifles, and stepped off on a three-hour foot patrol.
ANGLICO team leaders serving as evaluators simulated enemy contact at pre-determined patrol points, in the form of an improvised explosive device or sniper fire. Then, a Navy corpsman accompanying the group assigned specific injuries and evaluated the Marines’ treatment of the patient. After the patient was stabilized, the Marines located an LZ, called for CASEVAC, and got the wounded Marine safely onto the notional aircraft.
“With training like today, we try and create a stressful environment so Marines learn how to think through these situations,” said Cpl. Stephen W. Vandersteeg, a joint fires observer for the ANGLICO detachment, 31st MEU, and a native of Memphis, Tenn. “With our guys, especially the newer ones, this type of training is huge for confidence.”
Each team member rotated jobs within the squad, from team leader to radio operator to rifleman, providing the broadest range of experience to the Marines. The simulations involved detailed radio reports to higher command, transporting non-ambulatory wounded, land navigation, setting security perimeters, LZ selection, guiding aircraft and more.
The training ensured the Marines of the ANGLICO detachment sustain their depth of knowledge and are comfortable in applying what they know.
“We pride ourselves in not only being good at our own jobs, but being capable of performing the jobs of the men to our left and right,” said Cpl. Patrick Heinen, a joint fires observer for the ANGLICO detachment, 31st MEU, and a native of Lamar, Mo. “This training helps to ensure that regardless of the circumstances, ANGLICO teams will be able to perform.”
The ANGLICO detachment provides the 31st MEU commander a liaison capability that plans, coordinates, and conducts terminal control of fires in support of joint, allied and coalition forces. Most recently, the Marines of ANGLICO were attached to 3rd Brigade, Royal Australian Army, serving as fire support liaisons for bilateral training in Australia following exercise Talisman Saber 13.
The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness for the Asia-Pacific region and the only continuously forward deployed MEU.