Gulf Coast region plays host to MARSOC Realistic MIlitary Training
By Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Higgins, Defense Media Activity
U.S Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command -- Service members and staff with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command conducted a realistic military training exercise in the Gulf Coast region Feb. 6-16, 2015 to prepare Marines with 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion for future deployments.
Marines with MARSOC partnered with several Marine Corps and other U.S. military units during Unit Readiness Exercise RAVEN 15-03 to evaluate and enhance the battalion’s preparedness for worldwide support to global security.
MARSOC’s G-7 (Training and Education) conducts six such exercises yearly, and the MARSOC G-7 Director said it is during this training that MARSOC units get their first opportunity to work with the types of supporting units and subject matter experts they will likely work with during a deployment.
“At MARSOC, we take pride in deploying fully enabled (Marine Special Operations Forces),” said the MARSOC G-7 Director. “During RAVEN, we assess the (units’) ability to accomplish the full spectrum of missions MARSOC Marines conduct.”
MARSOC is a component of the joint U.S. Special Operations Command, and is tasked to support the Geographic Combatant Commands, through their respective Theater Special Operations Commands, with task organized, scalable and responsive Marine Special Operations Forces.
The G-7 Director said when a unit is tasked with a deployment, they analyze the mission to identify what enablers they will need during a deployment, and he and his staff bring those enablers to the exercise to evaluate the unit’s ability to plan and execute missions.
MARSOC units often deploy with intelligence, communications and logistics enablers to achieve a variety of special operations missions, including foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance and direct action.
MARSOC’s G-7 assigns mentors at the Marine Special Operations Team level to better evaluate the units during the exercise. The mentors provide operational experience and leadership to the teams in order to help prepare them for the deployed environment.
In early 2014, MARSOC regionally aligned 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalions to support Special Operations Command Pacific, SOC Central and SOC Africa, respectively. The G-7 assigns mentors with recent deployed experience to the units’ anticipated area of operations to add value to the exercise, said a mentor for the exercise.
“(3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion’s) missions are highly dependent on relationship building and having someone who has operated in a given (team’s) anticipated environment allows not only mentorship for the scenario, but also two weeks for the (team’s) leadership to pick mentors’ brains on lessons learned, best practices and personalities of foreign forces the (team) will interact with on a daily basis,” said the mentor.
Equally important for the units is the ability to train realistically in populated environments. During the exercise, Marines in the battalion practiced helicopter-borne and vessel-borne insertion, breaching techniques, fast-roping, and close-quarters battle techniques among other critical skillsets. The G-7 Director said the training would not be possible without the support of local government officials and the community.
Portions of the exercise took place in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
“Support of the local officials and communities is absolutely essential to this exercise and we would not be able to do it without them,” said the G-7 Director. “We’re very appreciative of their hospitality.”
Being able to train in and around cities and in populated areas provides a valuable element to the exercise and prepares the units for operations in similar atmospheres while deployed.
“The teams continue to be required to balance physically challenging events with simulated role play in politically sensitive scenarios,” said the mentor. “This replicates real-world environments that teams will be deployed in, which will require them to be mentally focused and apt communicators to influence that environment toward mission accomplishment in ambiguous situations.”
“(3rd MSOB) is better prepared for that because of the hard work of its teams, the G-7 Exercise Control Group and the team mentors,” he added.
MARSOC’s ability to conduct the exercise was also dependent upon several Marine Corps and other military service units. Service members with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 in Belle Chasse, La.; Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 in Lakehurst, N.J.; 122nd Air Support Operations Squadron in Pineville, La.; 524th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.; 1st Special Operations Group in Hurlburt Field, Fla.; 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; and Louisiana Army National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility 1 in Hammond, La., participated in the exercise.
Marines with 2nd Platoon, Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, and with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, both part of 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., participated as the notional partner nation force during the exercise. The MSOTs were tasked with training, advising, and assisting the force, a core competency vital to MARSOC operators.
The combined efforts of all military units involved and the support of local officials resulted in a successful exercise.
Overall, Marines with the battalion gained insight on the missions required of them and improved their core special operations competencies, said the mentor.
“Focus on the basics always remains relevant,” he said. “This includes tough, realistic training for all parties involved.”