ABOARD USS IWO JIMA -- Marines with Alpha and Weapons Companies, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) tested their fast roping skills June 14 while underway aboard the USS Iwo Jima.
As the Ground Combat Element of the 24th MEU, each infantry Marine may be called upon to enter a number of chaotic battlefield situations that may not allow a helicopter to land. Fast-roping is a technique used to deploy Marines quickly without the aircraft landing - helping to preserve air assets from enemy fire. Fast-roping can also be used as a means of engaging the enemy in a tactical manner with an elite, quick-reaction force.
Marines with the MEU are undergoing an aggressive program to further enhance their technique by first sending Marines down the rope from a stationary aircraft and progressing to fast roping from an aircraft hovering above the flight deck.
The MEU completed its last overseas deployment -- a seven-month tour in Iraq -- in February 2005 and returns to the front lines of the Global War on Terrorism equipped to operate as a flexible force capable of devastating the enemy in both small-scale, low intensity conflicts and larger, Marine Air Ground Task Force-size engagements.
The 24th MEU last week began an expected six-month deployment to the European and Central Command theaters of operation. The MEU is composed of its command element; Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 (Reinforced); and MEU Service Support Group 24.