Photo Information

A Marine with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, descends a rope from an MV-22B Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced), 24th MEU, during Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System qualification at Camp Lejeune, N.C., August 22, 2014. Marines spent two days fast-roping from a tower and an MV-22B Osprey in preparation for their scheduled deployment at the end of the year. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Devin Nichols)

Photo by Sgt. Devin Nichols

24th MEU fast-ropes toward deployment

4 Sep 2014 | Sgt. Devin Nichols The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines and Sailors with Lima and Weapons Companies, both from Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Ground Combat Element, received fast-rope qualifications by fast-roping from a 60-foot tower and an MV-22B tilt-rotor aircraft, August 20-21, 2014, at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System, commonly known as fast-roping, is a method to insert Marines into a location where a helicopter or tiltrotor aircraft cannot land, using a specialized rope that Marines slide down with gloved hands while using their feet to manipulate speed.

The MEU is compelled by its Mission Essential Tasks List, or METL. This is what is used to analyze, develop, and evaluate the integrated capabilities of the Marine Expeditionary Unit/Amphibious Ready Group. Some of those require Marines with fast-rope qualifications to conduct amphibious assaults and raids, maritime interdiction, noncombatant evacuation operations, and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, to name a few.

“This training is important for Marines. It gives us the capability to land in multiple zones and positions and if we did not have this capability, there would be instances where we would not be able to insert,” said 1st Lt. Mason Graham, the platoon commander for 3rd Platoon, Lima Co., BLT 3/6.

“For example, on Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure missions, when landing on a ship, we have to be able to fast-rope in and if there is a small landing zone… we can fast rope to have more boots on the deck without actually landing,” added Graham, a Brentwood, Tennessee, native.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee, the platoon sergeant for the MEU’s Maritime Raid Force’s security platoon, and Bottineau, North Dakota, native, demonstrated the proper techniques with confidence. He was very persistent about safety and the proper way to move on the tower and approach the rope.

The Marines and Sailors were divided into teams of 20 as they approached, climbed and subsequently fast-roped down the 60-foot high rise. A Sailor yelled, “can you believe we get paid to do this?” after completing his first of six total jumps from the tower.

The weather conditions changed as the humidity and insect population started to take its toll on the service members. As the heat became more intense, the situation didn’t get easier, especially once they had to wear their Kevlar helmets and Improved Modular Tactical Vests and repeat the training evolution. The humidity, even at night, brought a constant sweat and made it difficult to maintain a good grip on the rope. After everyone completed their required fast-rope descents, it was time to get some rest.

The Marines and Sailors woke up the following morning with the daunting task of performing their new found fast-roping techniques aboard an MV-22B Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced). As the Osprey approached the landing zone, the BLT Marines and Sailors gathered their gear to board and confidently execute fundamental insertion techniques. The downwash of the Osprey increased the intensity and tension of the service members when they were told they would be conducting 60-foot descents for the remainder of the training. 

Full of adrenaline, the Marines and Sailors walked away from the Osprey with new motivation.

Graham added, “This definitely was a change of pace from the average field operation. It’s something new and it’s something exciting, and going down the fast-rope is definitely a rush.”

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, or MAGTF, and is scheduled to deploy as an expeditionary crisis response force at the end of the year.

The next major pre-deployment exercise for the 24th MEU is Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise, commonly known as ARG/MEU-EX, and takes place during September.