MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The faint glimmer of the moon was the only light in the sky as the 26 ton assault amphibian vehicles rolled along the dusty path, churning up everything in the way of their powerful tracks, as Marines inside anxiously waited for the ramp to lower, releasing them to close with and destroy the enemy.
The wait ended and the Marines of Company B, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, launched out of the tracks May 24 and assaulted their target quickly and efficiently.
The training scenario, hosted by Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, is one of many exercises that will be evaluated in the next few months as the 11th MEU gets closer to completing its certification evaluation and deploying in support of combatant commanders global force presence requirement.
“The purpose of the mechanized raids is to validate and establish standard operating procedures for Bravo Company,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kevin H. Shelton, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the raids section, SOTG, I MEF.
The company planned and executed a one day and one night raid during the week. They also practiced breaching techniques, building clearing drills, escalation of force procedures and setting up blocking points, most of which were used during the raids. Capt. Daniel J. Thomas, the Bravo Co. commander, said the training served many functions and affects all levels of the MEU.
“It gets everyone involved from the commanding officer to the Marines on the ground,” said the Oakdale La. native. “The raids familiarized the Marines with the mechanized infantry teams that they will be working with in the future. It gave the Marines an opportunity to develop the skills they need to carry out a mechanized assault.”
Thomas also stressed the importance of exposing new Marines to the vital role that they play on the battlefield.
“The backbone of the Marine Corps is the lance corporal and below,” he said. “They have to make on the spot decisions. All the planning at the higher levels is supported by the Marines on the ground and the raids were a great opportunity for them to see the impact of what goes into completing a mission.”
Pfc. William T. Hunter, a rifleman with 3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon has only been with Bravo Co. for four months and said almost everything he learned during the training evolution was new.
“I’ve never ridden in an AAV before,” he said. “I learned new room clearing techniques that I think will help me out the most, especially if we go to Iraq.”
Lance Cpl. Michael J. Medina, 1st squad leader, 2nd Platoon, was thankful for the opportunity to take his squad to the field.
“This is the first time we have worked with Amtracks in an urban environment as a squad,” said Medina, a Los Angeles native. “We have a lot of new Marines in our unit, so it was a learning experience, but we worked in a very expedient manner. We now know exactly what we need to do to be proficient."