PACIFIC OCEAN --
Quick-reaction-force Marines conducted a helicopter-borne raid from USS Makin Island to Camp Pendleton, Calif., to gather intelligence in a training scenario during Exercise Iron Fist here Feb. 28.
Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and other Southern California units and Japanese soldiers with the Western Army Infantry Regiment, Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, are participating in the annual bilateral training designed to enhance the services' interoperability.
The seagoing portion of the exercise has included various types of amphibious training, from landing-craft missions to combat rubber raiding craft operations.
The quick-reaction force, or QRF, comprised of Marines from 1st Tank Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.
In their intelligence-gathering mission, the first wave of two squads boarded helicopters on the ship.
CH-46E Sea Knights with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 flew the two squads to a small training facility on Camp Pendleton. The Marines and sailors set up a security perimeter while the helicopters doubled back to the ship to transport a second wave of two squads.
With four squads assembled, the force moved in tactical formations toward the training facility.
“This training is essential for the Marine Corps,” said Cpl. Timothy Pate, fire-team leader for second squad, and a Bowling Green, Ohio, native. “We are doing a lot more things from sea to land and getting back to our amphibious roots.”
Pate said the training was unique because the mission started from the sea rather than from an airfield, which required a different type of training.
“QRF is a force in reserve that acts with the utmost urgency when called at the drop of a hat,” said squad leader Sgt. Anthony Meyers. “We get in, provide what is needed and get out.”
During the exercise, the force was aggressive and motivated, said Meyers. Despite sustaining several simulated casualties, they maintained composure and returned with the intelligence they were sent to gather.
Having conducted countless hours of QRF training, the Marines from 1st Tank Battalion executed the mission from ship to shore and back in just an hour.