4th Force Recon wraps up FMP
Marine Corps Base Hawaii -- Marines assigned to reserve 4th Force Reconnaissance Company conducted sustainment training on and around Marine Corps Base Hawaii for their two-week annual training package, completing a full mission profile, Aug. 23, 2014.
The role of force recon is to conduct deep reconnaissance and direct-action missions behind enemy lines to gather intelligence. They paint a picture for commanders and follow-on forces of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
“This culminating event is the result of two years of hard work,” said Capt. Nick Ralston, the officer in charge of the training event. Last year, the reconnaissance Marines operated at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows for their annual training, refining their standard operating procedures in a simulated, combat-oriented environment. Practicing good communication, reporting procedures, patrolling and small-boat operations were some of the company’s main objectives, according to Ralston.
This year’s AT builds off of previous training events held at MCTAB, adding to the palette of skills and capabilities the Marines possess.
“We went from crawl, walk to run and started things off two years ago at the very basics,” Ralston said. “ This year, we’re taking all that and building on it with live-fire maneuver, demolitions and responding to ambushes.”
Ralston said with the addition of new skills, operating platoons were in coordination with supporting reconnaissance Marines. The reconnaissance and surveillance element kept eyes on the operation from Range 10 at the top of the K-Bay Range crater, feeding real-time information to the Marines on the ground about opposing force role players in the scenario.
“The full mission profile was designed around a Force Recon platoon attached to a Marine Expeditionary Unit,” said a Navy officer working with the reconnaissance Marines. Simulated enemy anti-aircraft capabilities precluded air insertion, forcing the platoon to reach their objective via combat rubber raid craft, and swimming to shore, he said.
“The purpose here was to drill putting an entire platoon across the beach via swim insertion,” he said.
Scout swimmers lead the pack and surveyed the landing site in a “box recon” for follow-on Marines. They looked for potential threats and observed the terrain, pointing out the safest and most accessible route to take. Sailors assigned to the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, trained alongside the Marines.
During the scenario, platoons had to rig C4 explosives to a mock bridge with the aid of EOD sailors.
“What we’ve done is given the platoons a little more instruction (about) shape charges and different volumes of explosives,” said Chief Petty Officer Marcus Harvey, an explosive ordnance disposal clearance diver and a Port Townsend, Wash. native. “We’re teaching efficient use of explosives. There are a lot of different structural materials that would require a different way of approaching demolition.”
Harvey said that with time, the goal is for the recon Marines to efficiently destroy any structural material, whether it is steel, wood or concrete.
Wrapping up the exercise, Ralston shed light on the limitations of a reserve unit and what they plan on doing at next year’s annual training.
“I want to stress how well the Marines performed,” he said. “As reservists we only have a limited amount of time together, and we really have to make the most of these two weeks. For these guys to come from their civilian jobs and get locked in and focused for two straight weeks while lacking sleep … and to do things as complicated as amphibious operations mixed with live fire, demo and coordinating operations … these guys do amazing things and they’ve really developed over the last two years.”
Ralston said the unit would be going to Bridgeport, Calif. next year for mountain warfare training.