CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa, Japan -- Cutting through the night, a CH-53E Super Stallion descends to an insertion point and holds its position more than 30 feet from the ground. Ropes fly out of its opened back and the churning wind from the rotors pelts the Marines as they glide to the ground and swiftly set a security perimeter. The assault force closes on its target as the helicopter departs.
Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, executed a night raid here, Jan. 9, as part of the Realistic Urban Training Exercise. Following their insertion by aircraft from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st MEU, within a security perimeter provided by riflemen from the MEU’s Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, the MRF’s Force Reconnaissance platoon advanced on the targeted facility. Waiting inside was an armed force ready and prepared to resist the MRF advance. A reactive enemy firing simulated ammunition provided the realistic combat environment needed for the training.
“To refine our skills, we have to do these realistic hits with live role players,” said Cpl. Dru R. Turner, a team medic with FRP, MRF, 31st MEU and a native of Zephyr Hills, Fla. “You’re going to act differently if you know there are actual people inside and they are going to shoot back at you. A live enemy (role-player) is going to react to what we’re doing and that enhances the training.”
The complex raid required the small force to clear and search 27 separate areas while engaging the enemy, managing casualties, securing captured combatants and searching for intelligence.
The training is designed and evaluated by Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, in order to challenge the full spectrum of MRF capabilities. Realism combined with complexity is the common theme for SOTG’s pre-deployment training package.
“One of our biggest goals, balanced with safety, is to make the training as realistic as possible,” said Capt. Kevin P. Jones, the assistant officer-in-charge of the Expeditionary Warfare Branch, SOTG, III MEF, and a native of San Antonio, Texas. “It is called Realistic Urban Training Exercise after all.”
After successfully neutralizing the enemy force and gathering valuable intelligence for future RUTEX operations, the Marines again loaded a CH-53E helicopter to extract. Reflecting on their recent actions, both the MRF and their SOTG observers came away with a feeling of satisfaction from the raid.
“There are always things to work on, but they performed to the high level expected of a Maritime Raid Force,” said Jones, a native of San Antonio, Texas.
This raid was the first in a series of scenarios for RUTEX and is part of the 31st MEU’s pre-deployment training in preparation for their regularly scheduled Spring Patrol.
The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region and is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU.