AT SEA – The sun rose as Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit rigged themselves with harnesses and carabineers as they prepared themselves to drop more than 30 feet with nothing more than a rope and the trust and confidence in a fellow Marine. Marines from the Maritime Raid Force’s Security Platoon and Battalion Landing Team 3/5, both with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, practiced their rappelling skills off the back edge of the flight deck of USS Peleliu, March 5. The main training objective was keeping the 14 BLT Helicopter Rope Suspension Technique masters current in their qualifications, but it also gave the Security Platoon an opportunity to practice rappelling, which is one of the ways troops can be inserted into different situations.
The training conducted was a two-person technique where one Marine rappels controlling the amount of slack in the rope, which determines the speed of descent. A second Marine is on the ground belaying to ensuring a safe descent. “[Rapelling] is typically used for insertions in jungle environments or clearing buildings from the outside in, as well as cliff descents,” said 1st Lt. Vic M. Garcia, a HRST master and executive officer, Kilo Company, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “It is a tactic that we need to stay current in,” added the 37-year-old native of Salinas, Calif.
According to Sgt. Prince L. Bustos, squad leader, 81mm Mortars/Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel Platoon, Weapons Company, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU, Marines are required to practice three iterations before practicing it out of a helicopter. The three iterations include one without gear, one with and one with gear and weapon. “This is another good opportunity to train,” said Bustos. “It is safer than fast-roping, and in my opinion it is a lot more fun,” added the 31-year-old native of Fremont, Calif. Bustos isn’t the only one who is having fun with the training. “This is awesome,” said Lance Cpl. Gerry C. Craft, rifleman, Security Platoon, MRF, 15th MEU. “It’s something we can all do that increases confidence in our tactics, gear, leadership and ourselves. The techniques we are practicing could be employed from a helicopter for a mission. Where else in the world can you do this for free?” added the 23-year-old native of Glasgow, Ky. The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.