News: Recon vs. Counter Recon: Hunters become hunted
Story by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
MARINE CORPS BASE KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii – A counter-reconnaissance team is comprised of several Marines with a simple mission; track down and locate reconnaissance teams.
It is an unusual situation for both sides. Reconnaissance teams are trained to cover their tracks, move silently and not be seen.
During a training exercise Aug. 13, they were the hunted. A group of their peers with Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn., and some of their instructors tracked them, looking for indicators in the environment to locate their fellow servicemembers.
“We are going up against our own,” said Sgt. Alex Sanchez, a team leader serving with Bravo Co., and a member of the counter-reconnaissance team. “It makes it more challenging for them because we go through the same course, same schools and same training.”
The team is comprised of senior Marines, which means they typically have more training and experience than the Marines they are tracking.
“They choose us because we’ve already gone through this,” said Sanchez, a native of Sugarland, Texas. “We are seasoned reconnaissance Marines. We know what to look for and what the teams are doing.”
During a mission rehearsal exercise here, the counter-reconnaissance team searched for the Marines throughout a heavily forested area of the island. Often they asked themselves what they would do if they were put in this situation, where would they go to find cover and when would they move, Sanchez said.
“We are looking for target indicators,” he said. “Searching for possible footprints or routes they’ve taken. Then we find the best spots, the spots we would go to, and we do our own reconnaissance of that area.”
This dimension requires the teams to be on the top of their game during the training.
“The counter-recon team puts them on edge,” said Sgt. Michael Pacheco, a team leader serving with the battalion. “When they hear people shooting and running around near them or when they see us tracking them, they realize they need to be vigilant.”
The team is not just about finding the team. Part of the training is the ability to stay concealed from nearby enemies.
While patrolling, the team came within several hundred meters of the hidden Marines. Forcing them to not compromise their positions with needless noise.
“We train them to stay disciplined,” Sanchez said. “We teach them to stay quiet, swift and silent with everything.”
With that objective in mind, the team works to better the Marines out in the field by keeping the reconnaissance Marines silent, swift and deadly.