PACIFIC OCEAN --
From a helicopter hovering above the amphibious transport dock New Orleans here Dec. 2, approximately 60 Marines and sailors slid 30 feet down a rope to the swaying flight deck.
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s maritime raid force, supported by Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced), conducted 12 fast-rope flights at sea in less than two-hours.
The raid force is required to update its fast-rope training at least once every two months, said a platoon sergeant Staff Sgt. Adam Najar, a 28-year-old Hesperia, Calif., native. “We use fast-roping for any type of precision raid or (to visit, board, search or seize) to quickly insert right on the objective. It enables us to use speed to confuse the enemy.”
The raid force is the unit’s main counter-piracy team, trained in boarding techniques to engage hostile structures at multiple levels.
“(Fast-roping) is a crucial asset that will make us a successful raid force,” said Cpl. Joel Bruce, a 21-year-old Carbondale, Ill., native and a forward observer with the raid force. “It’s important to reassess your skills and make sure you’re up to a challenge before (a challenge) presents itself.”
The squadron, which serves as the aviation combat element for the unit, is reinforced by aircraft from the 3rd Marine Air Wing and provides the raid force with aerial transportation and support.
The unit embarked USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor in San Diego Nov. 14, beginning a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions.