MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, JAPAN
FUTENMA, Japan - Marines and sailors with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion departed Jan. 7 to Hawaii for Exercise Sandfisher 2014 to expand their capabilities, training and combat readiness.
Sandfisher is an annual bilateral amphibious reconnaissance and combat diving exercise between an internation partner nation and the U.S. Marine Corps. The exercise enhances interoperability, improves military-to-military relations, and increases collective military readiness between the services.
“Sandfisher is generally a bilateral training exercise with the Singapore Armed Forces, however this year they were unable to attend,” said Capt. David W. Harris, the commanding officer for Company B, 3rd Recon. Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Their absence this year will be replaced with members of the New Zealand Special Air Service. This allows us to further our military partnership with them.”
Although the U.S. service members are stationed on the island of Okinawa, Japan, some training opportunities can only be found on Hawaii, according to Harris. Training on Hawaii allows the service members to execute high-altitude, high-opening parachuting, night patrols and other operational readiness training.
“Through this training, the Marines will hone their skills in amphibious reconnaissance, ground reconnaissance, weapons and tactics, tactical casualty care, and specialized insertions and extractions,” said Harris. “These are the core skills which are vital to the success of reconnaissance platoons deploying in support of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.”
This exercise also prepares the participating Marines and sailors to support 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd Marine Division and III MEF with proficient reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, according to Harris.
Sandfisher is scheduled to include additional training events focusing on underwater navigation and ground-reconnaissance tactics training.
“During the exercise, elements of 3rd Recon. Bn. will execute the breadth and depth of reconnaissance training,” said 1st Sgt. Erick J. Robles, the Company B first sergeant. “This will include low-level, static-line parachuting, military free-fall parachuting, combatant diving, Diver Propulsion Device employment, long-range precision fires marksmanship, basic and advanced weapons employment, mounted weapons employment, team and platoon-level live fire and maneuver, small boat handling, surf zone passages, hydrographic surveys, submarine launch and recovery operations, team and platoon-level patrolling, long-range reconnaissance reporting, and patrol base operations.”
By accomplishing these tough and challenging tasks, the company will build cohesive reconnaissance units capable of operating independently in any environment with limited support, according to Robles.
The exercise is scheduled to conclude in March, with the Marines returning to Okinawa.
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