MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines and Sailors with Lima
and Weapons Companies, both from Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th
Marine Regiment, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Ground Combat Element, received
fast-rope qualifications by fast-roping from a 60-foot tower and an MV-22B tilt-rotor
aircraft, August 20-21, 2014, at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The Fast Rope Insertion
Extraction System, commonly known as fast-roping, is a method to insert Marines
into a location where a helicopter or tiltrotor aircraft cannot land, using a
specialized rope that Marines slide down with gloved hands while using their
feet to manipulate speed.
The MEU is compelled by its Mission
Essential Tasks List, or METL. This is what is used to analyze, develop, and
evaluate the integrated capabilities of the Marine Expeditionary Unit/Amphibious
Ready Group. Some of those require Marines with fast-rope qualifications to
conduct amphibious assaults and raids, maritime interdiction, noncombatant
evacuation operations, and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, to name
“This training is important for Marines. It gives us the
capability to land in multiple zones and positions and if we did not have this
capability, there would be instances where we would not be able to insert,”
said 1st Lt. Mason Graham, the platoon commander for 3rd Platoon, Lima Co., BLT
“For example, on Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure missions,
when landing on a ship, we have to be able to fast-rope in and if there is a
small landing zone… we can fast rope to have more boots on the deck without
actually landing,” added Graham, a Brentwood, Tennessee, native.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee, the platoon
sergeant for the MEU’s Maritime Raid Force’s security platoon, and Bottineau,
North Dakota, native, demonstrated the proper techniques with confidence. He
was very persistent about safety and the proper way to move on the tower and approach
The Marines and Sailors were
divided into teams of 20 as they approached, climbed and subsequently fast-roped
down the 60-foot high rise. A Sailor yelled, “can you believe we get paid to do
this?” after completing his first of six total jumps from the tower.
The weather conditions changed as the humidity and insect
population started to take its toll on the service members. As the heat became
more intense, the situation didn’t get easier, especially once they had to wear
their Kevlar helmets and Improved Modular Tactical Vests and repeat the
training evolution. The humidity, even at night, brought a constant sweat and
made it difficult to maintain a good grip on the rope. After everyone completed
their required fast-rope descents, it was time to get some rest.
The Marines and Sailors woke up the following morning with
the daunting task of performing their new found fast-roping techniques aboard
an MV-22B Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced). As the
Osprey approached the landing zone, the BLT Marines and Sailors gathered their
gear to board and confidently execute fundamental insertion techniques. The
downwash of the Osprey increased the intensity and tension of the service
members when they were told they would be conducting 60-foot descents for the
remainder of the training.
Full of adrenaline, the Marines and Sailors walked away from
the Osprey with new motivation.
Graham added, “This definitely was a change of pace from the
average field operation. It’s something new and it’s something exciting, and
going down the fast-rope is definitely a rush.”
The 24th Marine
Expeditionary Unit is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, or MAGTF, and is
scheduled to deploy as an expeditionary crisis response force at the end of the
The next major pre-deployment exercise for the 24th MEU is
Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise, commonly known as
ARG/MEU-EX, and takes place during September.