OKINAWA, Japan - The squelch of a radio quiets, leading to a moment of silence that is broken by the unmistakable sound of rotor blades slicing through the air as an MV-22B Osprey emerges over the tree line to move a simulated casualty to safety.
Members of Combat Assault Battalion engaged in patrolling, casualty evacuation and tactical insertion training with Ospreys April 11 to enhance readiness for contingency operations.
Marines worked through many scenarios ranging from evacuating a simulated casualty wounded by a simulated improvised explosive device to tactically inserting into and securing an area in a combat scenario.
“This is where we make our money as Marines,” said 2nd Lt. Thomas J. Baxter, a platoon commander with CAB, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “You only gain so much in the classroom. You have to come out here and learn through experience — that is how you get better.”
As part of the training, Marines patrolled through the Central Training Area near Camp Hansen, where they were struck by simulated IEDs. They immediately assessed their personnel and called for a casualty evacuation. Seconds later, they were carrying the victim to the landing zone and providing 360-degree security while they waited for transport via an MV-22B Osprey.
Throughout the training, Marines cycled through different roles within their squad, providing them invaluable experience in different positions during the training, according to Sgt. Joshua P. Lancaster, a platoon sergeant with the battalion.
“The Marines need to know how each part of the team works, so that when something happens, they can focus on their job because they understand, as a whole, what is happening in that scenario,” said Lancaster.
The unit has many Marines with a wealth of experience, as well as many who still have a lot to learn, allowing for rewarding interactions and development during training, according to Lancaster.
“We have Marines who have deployed multiple times and some who haven’t at all, and sharing experiences is vital to passing on knowledge,” said Lancaster. “The more experience they have as a whole, the better. They can adapt to situations as they come up.”
As a key component of 3rd Marine Division, one of the battalion’s primary functions is to support the infantry.
“As combat engineers, we’re out in front, sweeping the way for the infantry,” said Baxter. “Every day, there are Marines out patrolling in Afghanistan, and in front of them is going to be a combat engineer sweeping for them.”
This training keeps CAB ready for any scenario, and subsequently through its readiness, adds to the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific region, according to Cpl. Jeron A. Timmermans, a combat engineer with the battalion.
“Keeping in the back of your mind what we do, even if it’s just a taste of what we do in combat, keeps us on our toes at all times,” said Timmermans.