News: India Company conducts aerial assault raids at night
Story by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels
USS KEARSARGE, At Sea - Marines and sailors with India Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a simulated raid in Fort Jackson, S.C., Feb. 3, 2013.
After a two-week course put on by Special Operations Training Group and a series of aerial assault exercises during their pre-deployment training program, this marks the first vertical raid exercise the company has conducted from ship. Launching from the USS Kearsarge, this is a critical training event during the 26th MEU’s deployment work-ups.
“Our mission was to raid, destroy, and document all enemies, their weapons and intelligence,” said Lance Cpl. Cody L. Acord, a Sanford, N.C., native, and a rifleman with India Co., BLT 3/2. “Later on, we got word there was a high value target on the scene, who we captured.”
Just like every other mission, the company’s method of insertion was to fly in by helicopter. Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced), 26th MEU, supported the mission by flying the Marines and sailors aboard CH-53E Super Stallions and MV-22B Ospreys.
A new wrinkle in the training was the difference in preparing for the raid. Usually, readying for a vertical assault means an early morning at the battalion armory, as the Marines stand in long lines to draw their weapons and ammunition.
However, on ship, the armory is no more than a 60 second walk away from troop berthing and the ammunition is an elevator ride away from the typical staging area. Upon receiving rounds to be used during the mission, the troops of India Co. were given a few rounds to function check their weapons by firing their rifles off the side of the ship.
“We are given the rounds to ensure our weapons work correctly,” said Lance Cpl. Sean P. Connor, from Kent Island, Md., and an automatic rifleman with India Co.
He went on to explain, if it doesn’t fire properly, or does not properly feed rounds to the chamber, they have time to assess and fix the problem before the raid. It simulates a real-life scenario. The last thing anyone wants is for a rifle or weapon system to go down during an actual mission.
After the raid concluded and the company egressed back to the USS Kearsarge, Acord said the BLT 3/2 intelligence section on ship processed the imagery and data collected on the mission and are currently analyzing it for future operations.
The 26th MEU is currently conducting its Composite Training Unit Exercise, the final phase of its pre-deployment training program. The 26th MEU operates continuously across the globe, providing the president and unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force.
The MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations.