Photo Information

Cpl. Steven Escobar, a rifleman with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, communicates with his platoon commander after setting into position during the Mechanized Raid Course Nov. 9, at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain training facility aboard Camp Lejeune. The course took place Nov. 7-18 to prepare the company to serve as the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's mechanized raid force.

Photo by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

Raids, from ship to shore

18 Nov 2011 | Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

The mission is received: terrorist forces and a large amount of weapons have been identified in a town neighboring a previous objective.

Six hours later, the Marines are ready. Their gear has been checked and rechecked. All personnel for the mission have been identified and accounted for. Their roles, responsibilities and the scheme of maneuver have been briefed twice-over.

Assault Amphibious Vehicles carry the Marines through water to land, before finally arriving at the town. Security sets in — nothing comes into or goes out of the town, except the Marines.

The Marines assault and organized chaos ensues. The Marines stalk building to building, room to room, leaving their enemy combatants in a state of disarray as they mow them down with the sound of gunfire. Less than an hour later, the Marines regroup, get in their AAVs, and egress from the town.

None of this is real. The bad guys: role players. The bullets: blanks. The mission: a training exercise put together by the Special Operations Training Group to help prepare the Marines and Sailors of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment to serve as the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Battalion Landing Team's Mechanized Raid force.

The Marines spent Nov. 7-18, at various training sites throughout the base, taking part in the Mechanized Raid Course.

The company has the responsibility to serve as the MEUs Mechanized Raid force; meaning they insert into areas using AAVs, raid a target objective, and egress back to amphibious shipping that the 24th MEU is embarked on. The Marines of 2nd Assault Amphibian Vehicle Platoon are attached to the company and serve as the company’s transportation.

The training centered on all the intricacies involved with conducting raids including military operations in urban terrain, understanding the roles and responsibilities of the company’s platoons, and how to employ all available assets within the MEU’s capabilities to ensure mission success.

"This course is meant to pretty much get the company into the raid mindset, as far as going ship to shore," said Gunnery Sgt. James Page, the company gunnery sergeant. "It's an initiating package to get us ready for the MEU."

The two-week course took place as a way for the company to develop the foundation for their standard operating procedures, and develop cohesion amongst the Marines, according to Capt. Robert May, the company commander.

"It solidifies the SOPs we've been working on the previous three or four months," May said. "We want to codify all the information and make sure everything we've put in our previous SOP we can actually execute with."

In the first week of the course, the Marines divided into an assault element, support element and security element to focus on mission specific tasks. In the second week of the course, the company took part in raid scenarios, facilitated by SOTG, similar to how they would actually receive missions. The Marines would receive the mission, then have six hours to plan and prepare before assaulting their objective.

"We can set up a plan with that six hour TTP (tactics, techniques, and procedures) process, and then actually execute, based solely on our SOPs with minor modifications," May said.

The ability to understand how all their SOPs apply to that six hour period is one of the most important things the Marines should take from the course, according to May.

The Mechanized Raid Course is the last of three raid courses the 24th MEU’s ground combat element has completed to prepare them for deployment next year.