Airborne interdiction: 'Island Warriors' insert, control MOUT town
By Cpl. Matthew Callahan
| Marine Corps Base Hawaii | August 02, 2013
POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii --
A heavy thudding echoed out steadily in the thin Pohakuloa air. Fading in softly and gradually dominating all other noise, the whir was traced to the blades of rotor-winged monsters moving swiftly against Mauna Kea’s vast backdrop.
3rd Marine Regiment
Exercise Lava Viper
Pohakuloa Training Area
Over the barren wasteland of volcanic rocks, three CH-53Es transporting Marines of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, maneuvered into position to insert their payload of “Island Warriors” onto the rock bed and into a simulated enemy village, July 18, 2013.
Dust flew up around the aircraft’s fuselage and the ramps lowered. The Marines had landed. Billowing out of the helicopter, Marines quickly set up landing zone security around their ride, consolidating leadership to plan the next move into the military operations in urban terrain facility ahead of them.
Their objective was to capture a high value target believed to be the military equivalent of an enemy battalion commander and await extract upon completion of the mission.
Within the compound walls, booby traps, opposing forces and evaluators awaited the Echo Marines’ arrival. Marines with Headquarters and Services Company acted as OpFor to enhance the realism of the operation. Engineers with Engineer Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 3, evaluated the raiding Marines’ response to the traps they emplaced.
The simulated airborne raid was an opportunity for Echo Company Marines to demonstrate their proficiency in a number of scenarios culminating into one operation.
“The exercise allowed us to coordinate between different platoons on a company level,” said Cpl. Kyle Schutter, second squad leader, first platoon, Echo Co, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “Especially for our junior Marines, this allowed better visual immersion into a real life scenario,” according to him.
Schutter led his Marines into the sizeable compound with his head on a swivel, ensuring his men were practicing the appropriate tactics, techniques and procedures in the urban environment. The Headquarters and Service Company Marines kept the raid force busy throughout the operation, opening fire with blank ammunition on the Echo Marines and quickly egressing into compounds.
After clearing several buildings, first platoon occupied and held security for half the facility while Marines from third platoon inserted to take the rest of the village in search of the HVI.
CLB-3’s engineers followed in trace of the raid Marines as they made their way through the compound.
“Our mission here was to emplace booby traps, disrupting the assaulting Marines as they moved into the compound,” said Cpl. Mitchell Montes, an engineer with Engineer Service Co., CLB-3. “We were evaluating their reactions and TTPs when they encountered the traps.” The engineers also acted as personnel safety officers for the Marines conducting the raid.
Lance Cpl. Richard Louis Becerra, a team leader with first platoon, Echo Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, weighed in on the benefits of the training operation.
“Our initial bounding from building to building was slow to start, but we adapted quickly and moved more fluidly through the compound,” said Louis Becerra. Operating in a 360-degree environment, the team leader emphasized throughout the training that communication is key. “The enemy can be on the first, second or third floors here.”
Marines called out danger areas and emplacement of enemy personnel as they rolled through the MOUT town. After the HVI was captured and the remainder of the compound was secured, the Echo Marines consolidated and awaited extraction.