News: ‘Follow Me’ Division conducts largest amphibious exercise since war
Story by Cpl. Ed Galo
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – With the war in Afghanistan drawing down, the Marine Corps has shifted its focus on getting back to its amphibious roots.
The service members of 2nd Marine Division, conducted on of the largest amphibious training exercise since the war in Afghanistan aboard Camp Lejeune, May 24-26. Elements from seven different battalions participated in the event.
The Marines have been training in a wide variety of amphibious operations with the help of the USS Bataan, a Navy ship from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
“Basically, we’re upping the ante; not a full scale operation, but getting the moving parts started and working the coordination piece inside the division,” said Capt. Brian Wilson, operations officer, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
“The elements involved are from 1/8; the battalion staff, the combat operations center, a platoon-reinforced from Alpha Company,” continued Wilson, of Columbia, S.C. “You also have two platoons from (Assault Amphibian) Battalion, a platoon from Combat Engineer Battalion, a Battery from 10th Marines, a Truck Platoon from Headquarters Battalion, a Tank Platoon from 2nd Tanks and elements of (Combat Logistics Battalion)-22. That is everyone that has been involved in the planning and execution of this.”
The planning required for this three-day training operation lasted about a month. According to Wilson, the planning process took so long because coordinating almost all of the elements within the 2nd Marine Division working together to get the job done required extreme detail.
During the operation, a platoon from 1/8 embarked the USS Bataan via amphibious assault vehicles and landing craft air cushion-class hovercrafts that came with the USS Bataan. The platoon with 1/8 spent the night aboard the USS Bataan.
The following day, the LCACs came ashore and practiced loading and unloading Humvees, M77 Howitzers and other vehicles and then taking them aboard the USS Bataan.
AAVs advanced through the water to the USS Bataan where they were loaded up with the platoon of Marines. The Marines were then taken ashore by the AAVs. Once ashore, they stormed out of the AAV’s and attacked and secured a landing zone a few miles away from Onslow Beach.
As an infantryman, I can speak on the standards that we were trying to conduct with amphibious operations,” he continued. “But when you throw in the needs of AAVs, the needs of the (artillery) battery – it was a conglomerate of all different things. Finding common ground where we could all get as much out of this as we could was kind of challenging.”
Wilson said one thing that put the planning into perspective was understanding that the priority for training was the AAVs because they were the only ones who required a ship for the training.
“I can honestly say, I think we came to a very good overall solution where everyone involved is maximizing our time and getting as much training out of it as we can with the time we have allotted,” he said.