MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Sept. 21, 2009) --
Supplying the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit with dynamic ship to shore capabilities falls on the broad shoulders Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment Marines, and they got a taste of what this responsibility entails during a weeklong Mechanized Company Raid Course here, Sept. 21.
Instructors from Special Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, introduced the basics of this asset and its’ capabilities, previously unfamiliar to these Marines, in preparation for the unit's deployment with the 24th MEU.
The Assault Amphibian Vehicles is a tracked vehicle, much like a tank, capable of supporting ground Marines with mounted machine guns, transporting Marines across bodies of water or through deep, soupy mud, and most important capable of protecting the Marines housed within.
“Working with the AAV’s is a new experience and it’s good to get this training because we can implement them in many different ways,” said Lance Cpl. Brad. J. Curtis, infantryman, 1st platoon, Alpha Co., BLT 1/9, 24th MEU. “They’re not just a ride, aside from getting us where we need to go expediently, they also support us with their heavy fire power, and ability totransport casualties and many other things.”
Marines also worked alongside many other assets not normally attached to the company such as, combat engineers and sensitive sight exploitation teams.
“This course gives us an opportunity to work as a unit and hone our skills with the tracks and all other attachments,” said 2nd Lt. Ryan E. Maher, platoon commander, 2nd platoon, Alpha Co., BLT 1/9, 24th MEU. “It’s important considering the low intensity conflicts throughout the world and we could definitely be used as an asset of the MEU.”
Instructors observed and evaluated the company, letting them know where they made mistakes and making suggestions for improvement based on previous experiences.
“I haven’t done a raid course in the past; it’s a wakeup call to what we need to focus on in the future,” said Cpl. Patrick L. Gorski, squad leader, 1st platoon, Alpha Co., BLT 1/9, 24th MEU. “SOTG has a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer; they built us up from where we started, as the week progressed we got better and better.”
The platoon planned and conducted three company level raids; two day and one night. This gave Marines the opportunity to work in many different situations and prepare them for worst case scenarios.
“This has been one of the best courses that my platoon has been through; the instructors are extremely knowledgeable,” said Maher. “The Marines have performed exceptionally, they’re exhausted and a little beat up, but they’re happy.”
The Mechanized Raid Course was just one of dozens of courses Marines with the 24th MEU will complete prior to deploying with the Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group next year.