CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan --
A high-pitched whine arose in the distance, making the enemy turn their attention toward the north. Trigger fingers started getting itchy as the whine grew louder, as if some sort of iron giant was fast approaching. However, the whine suddenly dies to silence, and minutes later the treeline to the east exploded with gunfire.
Marines with Company E., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a mechanized raid against a notional enemy base of operations, Dec. 12.
The company, faced with a possible platoon-sized element of resistance, utilized the armor and firepower capabilities of the Amphibious Assault Vehicles, the operational “ace in the hole” of the company. Thirty tons of steel and munitions each gave the advantage to the raid force.
“We have the ability to roll off a boat, head on shore and push inland to an objective with that armor capability to get us in close,” said Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Garcia, a rifleman with Co. E., BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Sugarland, Texas. “The “tracks” also bring that shock and awe to the enemy; small-arms fire isn’t going to do a thing to the AAVs, and they realize that quickly.”
The Co. E. Marines also used another feature of the AAVs to their advantage: their noise. The Marines offloaded east of the enemy camp in the treeline while the tracks swung north, drawing the attention of the enemy away from the insertion point. The raid force opened fire from the trees and swept in, making short work of the outflanked opposition.
After the last shot was fired, the Marines had captured the leader of the insurgent training camp, as well as and maps and plans he had been working on before the raid struck. There were nofriendly casualties and following a thorough site survey, the force loaded back up on AAVs and headed home.
Although this training package is just one of many before the next scheduled deployment, both the raid force and the opposition kept a high level of realism, ensuring no training value was lost.
“We need to make every attempt to have the scenario be as realistic as possible,” said 1st Lt. Matthew J. Baumann, the platoon commander of Combined Anti-Armored Team 2, Weapons Company, BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Miami, Fla. “Our goal is to induce decision-making at the lowest level and create an environment where information must be passed up for the raiding force to be successful, and to do that the exercise needs to be treated as a real mission.”
Intelligence and maps recovered in the command tent were relayed back to the mission planners to help plan future missions against the overall enemy presence in the area.
The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region and is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU.