Marines dive toward objective during beach reconnaissance training
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines executed combatant diver and beach reconnaissance training April 24 in the Central Training Area to build upon amphibious reconnaissance tactics, techniques and procedures.
The training was composed of Marines with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, inserting into a lake from a combat rubber raiding craft, swimming to a beachhead, and assaulting a simulated hostile force.
“We are working to build the team’s confidence with using these dive systems and drive home our standard operating procedures for this type of operation, to make everything become muscle memory,” said 1st Lt. Daniel A. Romans, a platoon commander with the battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The Marines used MK 25 rebreathers for their dive systems, which differ greatly from more well-known scuba equipment.
“It doesn’t matter if you are using scuba equipment or the MK 25 – all diving is dangerous,” said Cpl. Darius J. Moussavi, a reconnaissance man with the battalion. “The biggest difference between scuba and the MK 25 is that scuba is an open circuit, which means it releases a lot of bubbles, and the MK 25 does not. By using a system which does not produce bubbles, we are able to swim to the objective without the enemy knowing our position.”
The rebreather does not produce bubbles because it scrubs and recycles the air the user exhales to keep the oxygen tank full, according to Cpl. Dexter R. Thorpe, a reconnaissance man with the battalion.
“If we were to use scuba equipment instead of the MK 25 system, the bubbles that come out every time we breathe would show exactly where we are in the water and what direction we are moving,” said Thorpe, a Wilmington, N.C., native. “Although the bubbles coming from a scuba system may look small to the diver underwater, all that air is under pressure, and as the bubbles rise, they get significantly larger and create a noticeable disturbance on the surface of the water.”
Even with the low profile provided by the MK 25, the Marines focused on employing slow, systematic movements as stealth is much more important for reconnaissance missions than assaulting a beach, according to Romans, a Maryville, Tenn., native.
“You have to have different methods of exiting the water based on the body of water you are in,” said Romans. “A beach will have a surf zone and the waves will hide a lot of noise. However, if you are in a lake or a river, you have to move with slow and methodical movements exiting the water in order to maintain sound discipline.”
To increase their combat proficiency while wearing the rebreathers, the Marines repeatedly swam to the beach, encountered simulated hostile fire, applied the appropriate immediate actions to include returning fire, and egressed back into the water, according to Moussavi, a White Plains, N.Y., native.
“The scenarios we trained on would not be an ideal insertion for a reconnaissance mission,” said Moussavi. “We never want the enemy to know where we are, but we need to be able to respond to those worst-case scenarios, such as having to engage the enemy while still wearing the MK 25. By practicing these immediate action drills over and over, when someone says ‘contact front,’ we instantly move into the proper positions to engage the enemy.”
As the Marine Corps focuses on getting back to its amphibious roots, the Marines with the battalion are expecting to execute combatant diver training on a regular basis, according to Romans.
“This training is something we as a battalion have not done in years,” said Romans. “As we continue to do this training and establish our standing operating procedures, we will share what we have learned with other reconnaissance battalions.”