MEU Marines smash resistance with tracks

MEU Marines smash resistance with tracks

by Sgt. Jonathan G. Wright
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

A high-pitched whine arose in the distance, making the enemy turn its 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 died to silence, and minutes later the tree line exploded with gunfire.

Marines with Company E, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, recently executed a mechanized raid against a notional enemy base of operations.

The company, faced with a possible platoon-sized element of resistance, utilized the armor and firepower capabilities of assault amphibious vehicles, the operational “ace in the hole” for the company. Thirty tons of steel and a large quantity of munitions 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 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, 31st MEU. “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 Marines also used another feature of the AAVs to their advantage: their noise. The Marines offloaded east of the enemy camp in the tree line while the “tracks” swung north, drawing the enemy’s attention 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 simulated leader of the insurgent training camp, as well as maps and plans he had been working
on before the raid struck. There were no friendly casualties and following a thorough site survey, the force loaded onto the 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 maintained a high level of realism, ensuring optimal training value.

“We need to make every attempt to have the scenario be as realistic as possible,” said 1st Lt. Matthew J. Baumann, a platoon commander with Weapons Company, BLT 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, 31st MEU. “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.

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