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    Marine Raiders undertake two-week air integration course

    Marine Raiders undertake two-week air integration course

    Photo By Sgt. Steven Fox | A U.S. Marine Joint Terminal Attack Controller with 1st Marine Raider Battalion calls...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Steven Fox 

    Marine Forces, Special Operations Command

    HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. - The image of a Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT) trudging through dense, jungle-like vegetation is probably not exactly what one would envision when considering a team’s natural surroundings in an operational setting.

    More likely, one would paint a mental picture placing a Critical Skills Operator in a pale-beige desert landscape, at high noon, possibly with a sandstorm brewing in the distance, or something of the sort.

    That, predominantly, is due to the region which U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC) personnel have been operating in for the last several years, but also because of the training locations the unit has frequented.

    In preparation for future deployments to their regionally aligned Geographic Combatant Command, a team leader with1st Marine Raider Battalion (MRB) assisted in coordinating training for his MSOT in Florida’s panhandle, where the terrain is comparable to that of the team’s intended tropical deployment destinations.

    “For the last seven years, or so, we’d been fighting a pretty good fight in Helmand province, Afghanistan, and for a lot of us, this is going to be the first time we’re reorienting to a different theater of operation,” said the Team Leader.

    The different theater of operation the Team Leader makes reference to is 1st Marine Raider Battalion’s regional shift from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), encompassing South America and Southeast Asia.

    “Moving to a place like Southeast Asia, where the environment itself can kill you, it requires a new way of thinking, a new way of operating, and time to prepare ourselves for those kinds of conditions,” said the Team Leader. “Also, the proximity of threats is much closer than maybe we would have had in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq, where you’re fighting in a much more open environment. It’s very different in the jungle, where you can’t see ten feet in front of you. Those are some challenges where we’re trying to increase our capabilities.”

    A training facility at Hurlburt Field, Fla., which hosts a two-week exercise called HAVEACE, proved to be a rather perfect candidate among other training sites due to its location, and the sheer volume and variety of training it can facilitate.

    HAVEACE is not actually an acronym for anything, but the training evolution, while managing to be remarkably multidimensional, primarily serves to provide air integration training which pulls in a variety of Special Operations Forces (SOF) air assets.

    “HAVEACE allows us to integrate those various air and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets into our training packages and training evolutions in an area that more closely resembles the types of environments we’ll be encountering,” said the Team Leader. “We wanted to take full advantage of everything HAVEACE made available to us, so we’ve tried to maximize our training days, integrating all of the insert/extract capabilities working with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the Lockheed AC-130 Gunships, as well as exploiting some opportunities to integrate all of our intelligence collection.”

    That’s actually how HAVEACE gets a lot of its appeal; the training is easily personalized, and a team has the ability to tailor the evolution to best suit its needs. It’s not just convenient, but necessary the training schedule be less-than-rigid because each team going through HAVEACE is at a different stage of its unit training program (UTP).

    The Marine Raider Regiment Assistant Operations Chief, who serves as the MARSOC liaison for HAVEACE, is responsible for making sure the visiting MSOT receives training in the fashion it desires.

    “If teams tell me they need to focus on their full mission profiles (FMP) because they already knocked their small unit tactics out of the park, they can pack their schedule full of FMPs, and I’m here to facilitate that for them,” said the liaison. “Or a team might need to do two weeks of airborne operations with water jumps, free fall and static line. Or they can come down here and do all maritime work. So really, whatever that team needs, based on what portion of the UTP they’re in - we can arrange the training around that team, specifically.”

    Before commencing their HAVEACE work-up, the operators with 1st MRB assessed their strengths, as well as their weaknesses, and developed a comprehensive training schedule which allowed them to focus on areas where they wanted to improve.

    “With our team, we’ve been putting a particular focus on maritime operations,” said the Team Leader. “Not only from a visit, board, search and seizure standpoint, but also from small boat and scout swimmer techniques, and closed-circuit diver operations, while working in a riverine environment.”

    Though the bulk of the HAVEACE package consisted of maritime tactics refinement, the 1st MRB team also allotted time to focus on fundamental infantry tactics. Individuals within the team collectively bring with them an extensive amount of experience and a wealth of knowledge. HAVEACE proved to be a good opportunity for individuals to forge a tactical relationship, and become fluid and exact in their operational capabilities.

    “We thought it essential that we work on tactics such as patrolling, individual moving techniques, and learning to operate silently and effectively in a densely wooded environment,” said the Team Leader. “The areas around Hurlburt Field provide an excellent opportunity to do just that.”

    The lay of the land at Hurlburt Field can be likened to Southeast Asia, so it’s ideal for teams at 1st MRB to use HAVEACE as a training venue, but HAVEACE has also standardized the concept of personalized and adaptable training for all of SOF, allowing teams going to CENTCOM and Africa Command (AFRICOM) to benefit just as much from the workup as a team deploying to PACOM.

    “One team may be going to a country within Special Operations Command Pacific’s area of responsibility, and another team may be going to a whole different country with a whole different set of languages, culture, tactical problems, environments to deal with, so every team is unique,” said the Team Leader. “Our training needs to reflect that.”

    For (SOF), training never really ceases. There’s always room for improvement and there’s always more to be learned. Always …

    In the operational realm, circumstances are ever changing. New days bring new challenges, thus creating more to improve upon and more to learn.
    CSOs and Special Operations Officers with 1st MRB understand this and continue to be flexible and adaptable while settling into the PACOM AO, or whatever latitude and longitude they may come to find themselves.



    Date Taken: 10.19.2015
    Date Posted: 10.20.2015 09:14
    Story ID: 179360
    Location: HURLBURT FIELD, FL, US 

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