CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan --
Twelve black masses crawled toward the jutting bar of sand, virtually silent as they sliced through the waves. Shadowy figures slipped from the objects and rush toward an embankment with a multitude of rifle barrels peeking out in the quiet advance.
Marines with Company F., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, executed a boat raid as part of the 31st MEU’s pre-deployment training package, Dec. 11.
The Marines used the small and stealthy combat rubber raiding craft to land on the objective, which is ideal for a quiet insertion.
“Boat insertions are typically reserved for night operations because we can come in undetected,” said Sgt. Walt J. Krueger, a squad leader with Company F., BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Memphis, Tenn. “We’re rehearsing as if it’s a clandestine approach to the beach.”
The CRRCs crept ashore in waves of several boats, bringing a company of troops in the beach. Reconnaissance swimmers were sent ahead of the boats to reconnoiter and maintain security at the landing site
Sporadic pockets of enemies initially slowed the advance up the beach. The squads quickly neutralized the aggressors and pushed ahead, their objective a landing zone further inland. The Marines made it to their objective with no casualties and a map detailing an additional enemy element near-by was confiscated for intelligence purposes.
While the boat raid drew to a successful completion, the overall pre-deployment training just started. The boat raid was the first mission in a multi-tiered scenario that incorporates all elements of the 31st MEU’s air-ground task force.
“Days of planning have gone into this three-hour (mission), and it doesn’t stop with this raid being over,” said Staff Sgt. Dan S. Martin, a raid evaluator with BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, and a native of San Antonio, Texas. “The map that was recovered goes toward planning for a follow-on mission for other companies of the battalion. There’s constant planning going on in the rear with coordinated efforts on the ground, one raid affecting the preparation and execution of the next.”
Even before the boats left the beach following the raid’s completion, real-time information and the recovered intelligence was sent to the BLT planning cells to help finalize the details for the next training evolution.
The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region and is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU.