Photo Information

Combat cameraman Cpl. Tripp Ainsworth descends 35 feet down a thick plaited rope rigged to a helicopter parked on the amphibious assault ship Makin Island at sea miles off Southern California’s coast Sept 8. The 23-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., native – who serves with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s command element – practiced insertion techniques with Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the unit’s ground combat element. The unit is conducting a second sea-based exercise since becoming a complete Marine-air ground task force in May.

Photo by Cpl. Tommy Huynh

Company trains to descend from helos

8 Sep 2011 | Sgt. Elyssa Quesada 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines and sailors serving with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element slid 35 feet down a thick, plaited rope rigged to a parked helicopter on the amphibious assault ship Makin Island miles off Southern California’s coast Sept 8.  

The training simulated a technique for inserting a company-sized force into an objective area.

“When we’re inserting by air – in six or eight aircraft – fast-roping from helicopters is the answer if we encounter a fouled (landing zone), be it debris or obstacles, or we’re restricted from landing in an urban environment,” said Company I executive officer and Boston native 1st Lt. Matthew Astphan. “And if we’re proficient enough, it’s actually faster to rope down into multiple sites without the pilots having to land.” 

Company I is one of three rifles companies in Battalion Landing Team 3/1 and serves primarily as a dedicated helicopter-borne raid force.

Astphan said two of the company’s platoons fast-roped from helicopters in July, descending from altitudes as high as 50 feet.

“By practicing and rehearsing, we’ll get better at fast-roping,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Draney, a helicopter rope-suspension technique master with the company. “This training will enable the Marines to prepare for the upcoming deployment and whatever the MEU may be tasked with.”

The unit began conducting a second sea-based exercise Sept. 1, its second since becoming a complete Marine-air ground task force in May.

Marine Corps News

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Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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