Photo Information

U.S. Marines with 1st Reconnaisance Battalion board a HUMVEE during Steel Knight 16 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Dec. 11, 2015. Steel Knight is an annual field training exercise that enables 1st Marine Division to test and refine its command and control capabilities by acting as the headquarters element for a forward-deployed Marine Expeditionary Force.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Castillo

Eyes from above; Marines, Soldiers join forces for Steel Knight

22 Dec 2015 | Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marine Corps Reconnaissance units serve as the eyes and ears of the commander, providing information necessary to employ troops effectively. This large undertaking is typically carried out with a small team of specially trained Marines, but that changed during Steel Knight.

A Long Range Surveillance detachment from 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, participated in this year’s exercise alongside Marines from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.  

“This is actually very good integration for our new guys to see how they work with LRS on the battlefield,” said Staff Sgt. Steve Holland, a team leader with 1st Recon. “We get instantaneous results; we report something and the infantry reacts to it and then we report the effects of that, so we get to see the full circle of [battle] right there.” 

Steel Knight is an annual 1st Marine Division-led amphibious, combined-arms, live-fire exercise and the Marines from 1st Recon provided task organized forces in support of both amphibious and ground reconnaissance, battlespace shaping operations and specialized insertion and extraction. 

According to Sgt. 1st Class Alex Tanner, the LRS detachment sergeant, this is not the first time reconnaissance Marines have integrated with the Army, but it is the first time they have worked together on such a large scale.

“They do things a little bit different than us,” Holland said. “Our reports are a little bit more detailed and they taper theirs in a different direction, so our integration with them is good. It opens our eyes to how we can better report things.”

The exercise began at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., for the team of Marines and soldiers, supporting the amphibious assault then, providing route reconnaissance and call for fire missions.

In support of Steel Knight, the Army provided two, six-man LRS teams who worked alongside 1st Recon from the beginning of the exercise.

“Long Range Surveillance in the Army is a very small community,” said Army 1st Lt. Michael Hauser, the LRS detachment officer-in-charge. “To be able to tie-in with a battalion and learn from the experience they’ve gained over the years has been really beneficial.” 

Overall, both the Marine and Army reconnaissance teams improved their skills from the experience of working together and were grateful for the lessons learned which they can carry forward.  

“It’s important for us to establish a relationship now before the next conflict starts,” Tanner said. “We [got] a lot of techniques and procedures that the Marines are using and I think they took some stuff from us as well. That’s going to help the relationship in the future … if we do get called together we don’t have to learn those lessons again and slow down the progress [during] a potential conflict.”