U.S.S. Peleliu -- There is no better way to start the day aboard the Peleliu than to blast away at targets as the sun is rising over the Western Pacific Ocean. That is how most of the Marines and sailors of the High Risk Personnel Protection platoon felt as they loaded their various weapons to conduct several rounds of target practice and shooting drills on the flight deck of the Peleliu March 1.
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, (Special Operation Capable) Camp Pendleton, Calif., is currently on a six-month deployment through the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
The HRPP platoon is comprised of specially selected personnel from the 11th MEU's command element. Their mission is to provide personal security to 11th MEU Commanding Officer and other high-ranking government officials.
According to Gunnery Sgt. Sammy S. Supnet, HRPP staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, from Santa Clara, Calif., the objective of the training exercise was to sharpen the platoon's shooting skills, improve muscle memory in handling weapons and to increase the quickness and accuracy in hitting a target. These are all skills the members of the highly trained platoon will need when and if they are called upon to do their jobs in a dangerous environment.
This training is very important because we have to be extremely well trained and prepared to do our job, said Sgt. Alberto G. Alaniz, HRPP platoon member, from Santa Ana, Calif.
According to Sgt. Trevor A. Hooper, HRPP platoon member, the training he has received is different from any of the training he is used to because it is contrary to traditional Marine Corps tactics that stress standing your ground and attacking the source of fire. "This training teaches us to evade danger. We’re not there to fight, we are there to protect the principal and to fight only long enough to get him or her to a safe place," said Hooper.
According to Hooper, the platoon has been very busy conducting other training including convoy security, bounding and blocking intersections, entering and exiting vehicles, walking formations, and actions on contact.
"I love it," said Hooper. "The training has been more intensive than I expected." Hooper credits Supnet's leadership and experience for making this training as valuable as it has been.
According to Hooper, the platoon has received top-notch training from real professional in the field. "The best part was getting the opportunity to train with the Los Angeles Police Department and the personal security experts of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade."
With the ocean as a backdrop and patchy clouds providing some cover from the sunny tropic glare, the platoon completed quick draw, magazine changes and remedial action drills they have learned along the way. Later, Hooper said he looks forward to whatever new training is in store for him, but just like any other deadly training he has learned in the Marine Corps, Hooper said he hopes he never has to use it.
For more information on the 11th MEU (SOC), visit the unit's web site at www.usmc.mil/11thmeu.