News: Maritime warriors practice calling for fire
Story by Cpl. John Robbart III
USS PELELIU – Fifteen Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force participated in a course to hone a new set of skills, April 22-26.
Calling for fire or calling in a casualty evacuation are tasks normally associated with scout observers or joint terminal attack controllers. These Marines, many in the ground occupational field, specialize in controlling aircraft.
The scout observers with the Command Element, 15th MEU, held a class to help prepare the MRF for the variety of missions that scout observers typically conduct such as controlling aircraft for air strikes or requesting casualty evacuations.
The 15th MEU employs a specially-trained unit of Marines and sailors who make up the MRF and are capable of conducting a variety of maritime missions to include gas and oil platform seizures, maritime interdiction operations and visit, board, search and seizures. The unit is comprised of a platoon of Marines from Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, and a platoon from Battalion Landing Team 3/5 that serves as their security element.
“This course taught the necessary skills to serve as a provisional fires observer,” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert L. Lower, fires chief, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “At the end of the course, the Marines were able to apply the skills on our simulator. Additionally, teaching this course enabled my two scouts and I to stay current in our specialty by educating Marines on procedures they could see in real-world situations,” added the 31-year-old native of La Porte, Ind.
The course covered a variety of radio procedures that included the different formats JTACs and scouts use to communicate with aviation assets in all of the services.
“As the communications chief, I’m always on the radio,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kendall R. Mathurin, communications chief, Force Reconnaissance Platoon, MRF, 15th MEU. “If a situation arose and there were no JTACs or scout observers, I would be next in line to call in these missions,” added the 30-year-old native of Brooklyn, N.Y.
After a variety of courses taught by the MEU fires chief and his two scout observers, the students turned to a practical application portion. They used the Digital Virtual Training Environment, which is an interactive simulator that can test the scenarios the Marines were taught.
“This was a pretty cool training experience,” said Sgt. Adrian N. Edeyaoch, squad leader, Security Platoon, MRF, 15th MEU. “This was a good way for us to receive more formal training on call for fire missions. I definitely feel more confident if we were called upon to use it. Additionally, the DVTE helped make the training more realistic for us,” added the 25-year-old native of Koror, Palau.
Training for these maritime warriors is a routine part of their job to ensure they master, practice and stay proficient in many different skill sets.
“Especially in our community,” said Mathurin. “Our Marines are sent to a variety of schools and maintain so many different skill sets that it’s important to stay current on all of them in order to remain a valuable asset.”
The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and is comprised of approximately 2,400 Marines and sailors. Together with Amphibious Squadron Three, they provide a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force capable of conducting a wide variety of operations ranging from humanitarian aid to combat.