ABOARD USS IWO JIMA -- While deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), Marines with Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment practiced fast-roping techniques onto the flight deck of the USS Iwo Jima during a Vessel Boarding Search and Seizure training mission Sept. 18. The exercise was conducted to prepare Marines for entry into hostile situations where the use of helicopters is either restricted or not possible. Fast-roping is a technique used to quickly and efficiently insert Marines into the battle zone without the need for a large area to land a helicopter.
In this instance, once the Marines touch the flight deck they immediately set up a 360-degree defensive perimeter to secure the platform and protect not only themselves but the helicopter and the crew as well. This allows an assault element to follow behind them and begin to search the ship and eliminate any possible threats on board. This exercise enhances technical skills, maintains skills and techniques already learned by the Marines, and sharpen or improve communication between each element of the VBSS team.
This training also ensures that when the time comes when fast-roping is needed that the Marines know the proper ways to fast-rope to avoid injuries. With this training Marines are prepared and well aware of not only how to correctly fast-rope and defend themselves but also how to avoid critical mistakes while fast-roping into dangerous environments.