AAV crews focus on fundamentals
CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan -- With the roar of an engine, the tracks churned through the sand, launching the assault amphibious vehicle and its crew of Marines into their natural habitat — the coastal surf.
“Today’s training is allowing the Marines to stay current in waterborne ops. That’s our bread and butter with AAVs and is where we excel — the water,” said 1st Lt. Ryan M. Rice, 4th platoon commander, AAV Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It is what separates the Marine Corps from other services.”
The Marines of 4th platoon engaged in water operations training March 5-6 at Camp Schwab, focusing on the basics of their skill-set.
The training included fundamentals of AAV operations, formations for movement, operations near submerged hazards such as shoals or reefs, and emergency procedures, such as fixing malfunctioning equipment afloat or rigging an AAV for towing.
The Marines began the training with basic formations and movements before moving onto more advanced skills.
“Today is the section level, basic stuff — we are getting our feet wet,” said Rice during the first day of training. “Tomorrow, we are going to conduct a higher level of training. We will be taking all of the vehicles into the water at the same time and getting into formations instead of doing it section by section.”
The Marines used the training evolution to work on communication and teamwork between AAV crews.
“(Teamwork) is the most important thing. If you don’t have communication and unit cohesion, things are going to fall apart very quickly,” said Lance Cpl. Kristopher M. Ax, an AAV crewman with the platoon. “If an (AAV) goes down, we are all going to need to know the immediate action for how to respond, and this is the kind of training that gets everyone on the same page.”
The Camp Lejeune-based platoon is currently assigned to CAB under the unit deployment program, and used the training to continue building on the foundation of teamwork it created during its time in the U.S., according to Sgt. Randy W. Griffith, an AAV crewman and section leader with the platoon.
“The more we do this, the more confident they get,” said Griffith. “We have that part down. So far, their confidence and teamwork has surpassed everything we could hope for.”
The experience the Marines gained operating in the choppy Pacific waters left them better prepared for future operations and training opportunities, whether those will occur in Japan, the U.S. or throughout the Asia-Pacific region, according to Griffith.