Photo Information

Marines with Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, return to their amphibious assault vehicles after conducting a company-sized mechanized assault exercise as part of Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., May 10. COMPTUEX is the second at-sea event in the 11th MEU and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group joint predeployment training program, during which they will refine mission-related operations and blue-green communication. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Wenger/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Melissa Wenger

Echo Co. jumps on tracks for mech assault training

19 May 2014 | Sgt. Melissa Wenger 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The Marines of Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment (BLT 2/1), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, geared up and shipped out from the USS Comstock during Composite Unit Training Exercise for combat operation training.

Echo Company mounted up on amphibious assault vehicles, or “tracks”, attached to the unit and successfully conducted a mechanized assault on an objective site aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. May 10.

“Really, the intent was just to hammer down on our ability as a company to employ both mechanized assets and infantry assets as one to develop our proficiency in that skillset,” said Capt. Larry Iverson Jr., commanding officer of Echo Company. “It’s about having that heavy firepower that can go anywhere amphibious on a moment’s notice.”

Out of all the companies of BLT 2/1, Echo is the one most specialized in mechanized assaults.

“With these vehicles and the personnel than can go out inside them, we can pretty much go anywhere and provide such a heavy force against the enemy,” said Sgt. Christopher Hobbs, a squad leader with Echo Company and a St. Cloud, Fla. native. “We’ve got heavy machine guns with the tracks, and inside you’ve got the company with all the weapons capabilities that they have. You don’t have to worry about taking helicopters; we can just come splash, hit the beach and in 30 minutes get to our objective and come back. We’re like a really quick reaction force with a heavy amount of firepower.”

The Echo Company mechanized assault capability is synonymous with the 11th MEU’s mission of being a flexible, rapidly-employed force in readiness.

“There are a lot of different countries out there that may require us to do an amphibious assault somewhere,” said Iverson. “At the end of the day, one of the most important things for the MEU and just the United States in general is the ability to make forcible entry if it’s needed into a country and set the conditions for follow-on operations.”

What makes that flexibility possible is the company’s seamless assimilation with tracks.

“Integration with tracks and the line company is one of the most important things a MEU can do,” said 1st Lt. Will Lambuth, commanding officer of the company’s AAV platoon. “Echo Company has been working with my track platoon for over a year now, and as simple as it may seem to just jump on tracks and taking the fight to the enemy, it’s a lot more complicated than that working with each other. We have to get with each other’s timelines and standard operating procedures to make things work fluidly. We’re just now getting to where we’re firing on all cylinders as a mechanized company.”

This training operation was also another opportunity for each element of the company to have some face time with each other.

“It’s really nice when we’re not actually out on missions or out on a company objective or something because my Marines get to interact with the riflemen and get to do cross-training and things like that,” said Sgt. Mike Clark, mortars section leader, and a Deland, Fla. native. “It really builds relationships across the company and makes us a better fighting force as a whole.”

This was the last sea-based sustainment training opportunity Echo Company had prior to their qualification during the next at-sea period, Certification Exercise.

“I think it’s very important that the MEU has a certified mechanized company that’s ready to go into the fight and has been trained to a standard,” said Iverson. “In the event that it is needed, you need well-trained Marines, and I think CERTEX allows you to have those Marines ready and capable to bring the fight to the enemy’s doorstep.”

Echo Company is slated to deploy under the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit later this summer.

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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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