MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLO, Hawaii -- As clouds covered the sky and rain fell upon the jungle canopy, two teams of reconnaissance Marines stepped out into the darkness to begin a training mission unlike most of them had ever encountered.
Marines with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, conducted jungle reconnaissance and surveillance training aboard Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, Nov. 19-21, 2015.
The Marines conducted insertion, infiltration, execution, exfiltration and extraction training in terrain unfamiliar to what is usually found at their home base in California. The Hawaiian terrain ranged from beach shores to dense jungle and open valleys during the pouring rain.
During the late hours of the night in the middle of a rainstorm, two teams of Marines inserted at different locations using land vehicles. After insertion, they found cover and sat in a circular formation facing outward to conduct “SLLS.”
“’SLLS’ stands for stop, look, listen and smell,” said Gunnery Sgt. Brett Lane, from Mt. Kisco, New York, and platoon sergeant with the company. “When Marines insert into a new area, the baseline is disturbed. Conducting ‘SLLS’ allows that baseline to reset and ensure the teams were not seen by opposing forces before moving.”
The first phase of the reconnaissance and surveillance mission is finished after the teams communicate with radio, “insert complete,” to the platoon commander or platoon sergeant.
Infiltration is the movement from the insertion point, where ‘S.L.L.S.’ was conducted, to a named area of interest where the team then conducted observation or reconnaissance.
“Moving through this environment was a good experience for some of the newer Marines,” said Sgt. Anthony Lee, from Phoenix, Arizona, and assistant team leader with the company. “Moving through the jungle in an unfamiliar climate, going up and down hills through thick vegetation and being soaked the entire time gives us an experience we never get back in California.”
The execution phase consisted of teams reporting on multiple NAI’s, ranging from a mock urban environment to multiple bridges, over the two-day training period.
Once the reports were conducted, the teams moved under the cover of darkness and through the jungle to an extraction point.
During extraction, the teams were removed using the same vehicles they were inserted with in a heavily wooded area.
“When extracting the teams, we look for a sign such as an infrared chemlight in the road,” said Lane. “When the vehicle sees that, it knows to stop and wait for the Marines to load their gear and extract.”
The Marines of Company A are constantly conducting reconnaissance and surveillance training missions to help build the skills of their newer Marines.
“When recon Marines are given an opportunity to come into different environments and work through different problem sets they are given,” said Lane. “It’s going to make them a huge force multiplier for commanders in the future.”