CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marines and sailors from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit recently were put to the test in a training scenario that had them finding and taking out a “terrorist training camp” in the Central Training Area here.
The training, part of the unit’s special-operations-capable certification, involved almost 60 Marines and sailors conducting a helicopter-borne raid, according to a 31st MEU news release. After a three-hour, long-range movement, three CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters dropped the servicemembers — from Company G, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment — into a landing zone.
Their mission: conduct reconnaissance and surveillance with scout sniper teams, then learn the location and condition of weapons the “terrorist organization” was trafficking. They also were to destroy the training camp and equipment, Staff Sgt. Ronald Stephens, from the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group, was quoted in the release as saying.
Evaluators graded the troops on tactics, techniques and procedures, Stephens was quoted as saying.
Once in the landing zone, assault troops met up with a scout sniper team that led them on a tactical patrol through the jungle, the release stated. At the same time, other elements of the force approached. With security set up, troops laid down support fire on the “aggressors,” Sgt. Paul C. Arellano, a machinegun squad leader with the company, was quoted in the release as saying. The unit’s assault element then rushed the compound.
The Marines secured the camp, “captured” a high-value individual and collected information, the release stated. They then “destroyed” enemy weapons and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. Once the objective was secured, they accounted for their personnel and returned to the landing zone.
Total time from raid to extraction, Stephens stated: 25 minutes.
“They definitely need to be commended on how they snuck up on the objective without being compromised,” he stated. “It was quiet and peaceful and then all hell broke loose.”