MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines from Light Armored Reconnaissance Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, stormed the beaches of Camp Pendleton recently in search of imaginary al-Qaida leaders in two raids during Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force’s Light Armored Reconnaissance Course.
The two incursions were part of the weeklong course, held by SOTG here, as part of the six-month training cycle for the 11th MEU to become Special Operations Capable before a portion of Co. C deploys to the Western Pacific and Southwest Asia regions this summer.
In this scenario, the Light Armored Vehicles boarded several Landing Craft Air-Cushioned hovercrafts, went out to sea and simulated coming from ship to shore to capture or kill any al-Qaida personnel. Their mission was also to acquire any documents they might find which could lead to further knowledge of terrorist operations.
First Sgt. Rodolfo G. Sarino, first sergeant of C Co., spoke of his experience in three other MEU deployments saying that amphibious assault is mainly the type of operation the company might conduct at sea.
“That’s what we would do, ship-borne operations,” he said. “It’s all a part of the MEU workup package.”
It was a textbook amphibious destructive raid with three basic elements: security, support and assault.
The security element kept an eye out for enemy forces responding to the attack on the terrorist camp. The support element steadily fired upon the camp until the assault element actually entered the terrorists’ domain to kill or capture the al-Qaida and gather intelligence about their operations. Once the assault element did their job the company notionally returned to the ship.
Marines in C Co. thought the training scenario was a good example of what they may encounter in a real world situation.
“Its pretty good training, the SOTG instructors made it like it would be in the real world,” said Sgt. Andres F. Ramirez, chief scout for the company.
There were also other benefits of the training besides qualifying for the upcoming deployment.
Sarino added that many of his Marines are new since Operation Iraqi Freedom, and that this training is a great refresher for those who have been deployed and good new knowledge for the young Marines who haven’t.
Captain Gilbert D. Juarez, commanding officer of C Co., is confident in the abilities of the Marines back from OIF to lead the way for the younger Marines.
“A lot of these Marines have been in combat in Iraq, and they’re used to having to do a lot of tasks,” Juarez said. “A raid is just another operation … it’s no different than any conventional operation.”
As for the mission’s outcome, the 108 Marines and sailors, many of who were cramped into the tight spaces of approximately a dozen Light Armored Vehicles for hours ready to spring upon the unsuspecting terrorist camps, did their job well according to Juarez and SOTG instructors.
“These guys are ready right now,” said Staff Sgt. Ron R. Rawls, SOTG raids instructor. “They did an overall outstanding job, their battle drill is solid.”
With the death or capture of all fictitious al-Qaida, Juarez attributed that success to leadership at the lower levels.
“It went really well because of the small unit leadership, initiative and preparation in rehearsals,” Juarez said.
Rawls also complemented the company’s non-commissioned officer’s ability to lead the raid.
“The presence of strong NCO leadership was the bedrock for this unit’s success,” he said. “Charlie Company is a force to be reckoned with.”
Ramirez said that for many of the company’s lower-level leaders, the first time they had been anywhere was Iraq, and he was confident in their abilities.
“I’d go anywhere with these guys,” he said.
Sarino attributed the success and future achievements of the company to everyone down to the lowest leader, stressing mission accomplishment.
“If you train them for (mission accomplishment) they’ll learn how to get the job done, stay alive and go home,” he said. “And it will then create troop welfare.”