Photo Information

Marines from Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion 8th Marines, walk to their CH-46 Sea Knights as they wait on the landing zone for an upcoming Helicopter raid on Fort Eustis Va., on March 1, 2006. The BLT is the ground element of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, that is currently conducting Training in Urban Environment Exercise.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Lujan

24 MEU sharpens helo raid skills

1 Mar 2006 | Cpl. Matt Lyman

Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps’ quick-reaction force, capable of rapid insertion and extraction all while conducting specialized, precision missions. These missions are generally called raids.  Marines of Alpha Co., Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 8th Marines, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit executed a helicopter raid mission at the Virginia Beach Police Department training facility in Creeds, Va., on March 1, 2006. This is one of many missions the 24th MEU will be conducting while participating in its Training in an Urban Environment Exercise in the Hampton Roads area.

According to Lance Cpl. Ryan Hubbard, a rifleman from 3rd squad, 2nd plt., Alpha Co., BLT 1/8, 24 MEU, 19, from New Camp, Va. “If we’re going to do missions like what we’ve been practicing here, it’s going to make us a lot more confident, it’s good for hands-on [training] if we end up going over and doing this. ”

Using a total of eight helicopters, the mission consisted of more than one hundred Marines closing in on a group of three buildings for the purpose of apprehending three simulated members of the insurgency in a space of just under two hours. The Marines were also charged with gathering as much intelligence information as possible because the insurgents were suspected of building and distributing improvised explosive devices.  Six of the helicopters used in the raid, were CH-46 Sea Knights and the other two were CH-53 Super Stallions provided by the 24 MEU’s Air Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, NC.

“It’s good to train to this scenario because when you get over there this becomes a major focus,” said Alpha Co., executive officer, 1st Lt. Doug Bahrns, 25, a native of Woodbridge, Va., who saw the mission as a success. “This mission went extremely well, we were able to slow down the traffic of IEDs.”

This training not only gives the Marines of Alpha Co., training on the objective, it also familiarizes the pilots from the ACE with the maneuvers and scenarios they may face if and when these tactics are employed in an actual combat situation.

This is the first TRUEX that has incorporated almost every member of the MEU, generally this is an exercise focused on the command element’s ability to employ and deploy the members of the Maritime Special Purpose Force in an urban environment. With this TRUEX, the MEU commander has the added aspect of realism by having the power to intertwine the ACE into some of the raid scenarios.

The 24 MEU is conducting TRUEX to further enhance its ability to conduct specialized raids and missions in small windows of time effectively and efficiently. The 24 MEU will be training in the Naval Station Norfolk area for the next couple of weeks in preparation for their upcoming deployment.