MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON. Calif. -- During the early morning hours of July 9, the Marines of Alpha Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, inserted into Range 800. But, it wasn't a typical trip to the field.
They set up a reconnaissance and surveillance post and marked the enemy's position, capabilities and number of troops for a raid as soon as they entered the range. Typically the reconnaissance company would pass this information to an infantry battalion, but during this raid exercise they proved they could take enemy objectives as well.
"Most of the time we are the eyes and ears of the battlefield, but this week we are proving that we can also attack and fight just as other infantry units," said Master Sgt. David Jarvis, the operations chief serving with Alpha Co., 1st Recon Bn.
After the Marines gathered their information on the enemy, they teamed up with a mortar platoon from 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and began their assault by bombarding the enemy with indirect mortar fire from the 81mm mortar system.
As the mortars smothered the enemy objective, Alpha Co. began breaching the enemy's defensive position. Dust and soil erupted into the sky as the company blew their way through the enemy's defenses with C-4 charges, bangalore torpedos and AT-4 antitank rockets. Snipers accurately fired at enemy targets while machine gunners suppressed the enemy from afar with their crew-served weapons while the recon team maneuver around the enemy objective.
As the dust began to settle on the battlefield that was riddled with holes and destroyed targets, the Marines found weapons the enemy planned to use against them and destroyed them. After one final sweep, Alpha Co. decided the enemy objective had been secure. Then, with a short break to review their training objective, they resupplied ammunition and conducted the raid again.
"Everything came together beautifully," said Jarvis, 36 from Portage, Wash. "We were able to combine all our assets for this dynamic raid and build confidence and unit cohesion."
The training not only built confidence and unit cohesion, but it also proved the reconnaissance company could add more capabilities to their upcoming deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The raid exercise showed the company can be tasked with conducting missions that cover a broader range than just basic reconnaissance and surveillance missions.
"When we deploy, we need to be proficient in all areas so we can complement whatever unit we are attached to," said Staff. Sgt. Nicholas Busby, a reconnaissance team leader serving with Alpha Co. "This was a way that we could show that we can attack as a unit."
Busby, 27, from Belleville, Ill., said he wants other units to look at reconnaissance Marines as the "go-to guys" and doesn't want to let the legacy down by not being able to seize enemy objectives like basic infantry units.
The recon Marines successfully completed the raids and showed they are capable of executing assaults, thus being an important asset to whichever unit they deploy with, said Busby. In this case, the Marines will support 11th MEU.
"We always want to be the force of choice when we deploy," Jarvis said. "These Marines train hard to ensure no matter what mission they are tasked with they are capable of completing it."