CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan -- Maneuvering under the thunderous echoes emanating from mortar rounds hitting a fortified position ahead, the Marines bring the precision of an organized assault to the chaos of the battlefield.
Marines and Sailors with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a live-fire and maneuver exercise in a collection of hills and valleys here, Jan. 4.
One squad at a time, the Marines set out from their campsite to push their way through thick foliage and deep mud on the way to the target.
“These Marines are switching from warfighting in the desert to fighting in a dense, wet, and humid jungle,” said Staff Sgt. Rick J. Meyers, a Platoon Sergeant with (Company?) BLT 1/5, 31st MEU and a native of Riverbank Calif. “Being out here for a couple of days and doing non-stop training within this environment helps the Marines become more adept in the jungle.”
The objective of the exercise was to assault a simulated enemy fortification, complete with concertina wire barriers and sand bag bunkers. This would be a daunting task for a lone rifle squad, but the Marines in the assault were supported by the combined arms effects of a 60mm mortar team and a 240B machine gun team.
“You can never get enough really good training like this,” said Pfc. Deron D. Evans, a rifleman with Company A, BLT 1/5, 31st MEU and a native of Stilwell, Okla. “We hardly ever get to break out every piece of the puzzle during training, but here we get to use every asset needed to take a fortified enemy position.”
A bombardment of mortars kept the enemy in their bunkers as the rifle squads’ engineers set explosive charges on the concertina wire barriers. Upon detonation, the wire separated, leaving a clear path to the enemy bunkers. With support from the machine gun team, the Marine rifle squads made short work of the entrenched enemy.
Using live ammunition for the mortars, machine guns and rifles, makes the training as realistic as possible for the Marines. Each element must be well coordinated during the attack, to avoid the danger of friendly fire.
“Every Marine must know their target and what is beyond it,” said Capt. Adam C. Stiles, commanding officer of Co. A., BLT 1/5, 31st MEU and a native of Denver, Colo.
The training exercise is a part of the BLT’s pre-deployment training package for the 31st MEU’s Spring Patrol. The patrol will require the Marines and Sailors of BLT 1/5 to execute and teach their capabilities in a foreign environment, while learning new techniques and practices from allies during multi-lateral operations.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.