Maritime Raid Force performs urban training
By Cpl. Thor Larson, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
The relative quiet of a small neighborhood in Guam at night in is broken by a loud explosion. The concussive bang is soon followed by the small pop of gunfire. It doesn’t take long for camouflaged men to appear out of one of the buildings, clearly escorting someone. They rapidly load up into waiting vehicles and leave, any sign they were there disappearing in the silence of the night.
Reconnaissance Marines and sailors with Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted training on Guam, Jan. 11-17, as part of Realistic Urban Training Exercise. RUTEX is a high-intensity, close-quarter battle training exercise conducted in an actual urban environment to provide a high degree of realism to the training. The exercise is part of the MRF’s pre-deployment training before their upcoming deployment with the MEU.
“RUTEX is a work-up exercise where they’re testing how well the MRF does as a whole,” said 2nd Lt. Jay Parales, the security element platoon commander with Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st MEU, currently attached to the MRF. “If you imagine a work up being a crawl - walk - run, then this is leaning into the walk and slightly into a jog.”
The MRF is made of three different elements: the Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Platoon and the security element. They all have a specific role in the MRF and one cannot function without the other successfully.
“The ARP went out before everyone else and started to survey the area,” said Parales, a native of Seattle. “With the information that the ARP provides, we use it to create plans and terrain models.”
The Marines began to build the terrain models immediately after arriving in Guam. The terrain models are large, simple maps of the area and layout of the buildings the Marines will be operating in. They create the terrain models with items like chalk, cardboard, tape and paint and they use them to go through rehearsals and to familiarize the Marines with their objectives.
“With the three different elements working together - the FRP, ARP and the security element - we all have to internally rehearse our role in the mission,” said Parales. “Then we have to rehearse how we’re all going to sync together and link up and leave together.”
After the Marines go through their final rehearsal, they load up their gear and begin their mission. The MRF conducted two raids during RUTEX, both to capture simulated high-value targets located in different urban areas. With all of the information the FRP and security element received from the ARP, they could began their assaults.
“RUTEX brings everyone together and makes us work together to accomplish the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Weber, the special equipment non-commissioned officer for the FRP.
For both raids, the FRP Marines flew into the objective on two UH-60 Black Hawks, fast-roped to the ground. Explosive charges were then used to make an entrance into the building the targets were located in. Marines then rushed in and engaged any enemies they came across while searching for their target.
While the FRP is conducting actions on the objective, the security element is setting up a security cordon around the area. Blocking positions are used to keep anyone from coming in or out, and they have an extra team of Marines on hand to act as a reserve if the main effort needs it.
“The security element has a two part mission the outer cordon and the inner cordon,” said Parales. “The outer cordon is in charge of the blocking position with the vehicles and the security outside of the objective. The second mission for the security element is they follow the FRP directly into their objective.”
Once the mission is complete, the security element acts as the extraction force, bringing everyone back for debriefing. The debrief is almost as important as the missions themselves, giving everyone a chance to go over what they did well and what they still need to improve on.
“RUTEX really helps us to work together and fine tune our abilities to successfully complete a mission, no matter what it is,” said Weber, a native of Live Oak, California. “We’re training on what we could possibly do in real life and now everyone knows what they need to work on and what they have down.”