Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Aug. 12, 2015) --
Twelve Marines sat buckled into chairs mounted around the cabin of a CH53-E
helicopter as it hovered 30 feet above the ground. The helicopter’s crew chief
took his position at the center of two long rows of seats, standing over a
large cutout in the floor—referred to as the “hellhole”— looking for the sign
to begin training. He motioned for another Marine to push a coiled green rope
through the hole to the ground below.
“Team one on me,” shouted one of
the reconnaissance team leaders, calling his crew to stand up ready to leap
from the bird. “Grab high and slide!"
One after another,
U.S. Marines with the Force Reconnaissance Detachment and Battalion Landing
Team 2/1, honed their skills with fast rope training at Landing Zone 53 aboard
Camp Pendleton Aug. 12, 2015. These Marines, along with the aircrew from Marine
Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 166 (VMM-166 (Rein)), are slated to deploy with the
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Western Pacific.
“If we have to
get Marines into a position quickly, insertion by fast roping is one of the best
ways to do it,” said Capt. Bradley Fromm, commander of the 13th MEU’s Force Reconnaissance
Detachment. “It puts Marines where you need them precisely when you need them.”
Fromm, Marines inserted via fast roping are instantly assets in the fight and
can begin to put rounds downrange at the enemy or begin assisting evacuations immediately.
That firepower can become even more effective when combined with the weapons
arsenal of the insertion aircraft.
15 more Marines on the landing zone in less than two minutes— that’s 15 more
professionals prepared to complete any task,” Fromm said. “That kind of
flexibility is invaluable on any mission and that’s what keeps us relevant as a
aircraft for training comes with risks, though they are balanced by placing
qualified Marines in supervisor and safety positions. Marines like Cpl. Daniel
Sessman, a HRST Master and seasoned fast roper, guide trainees to the hellhole
shouting directions before and during their slide.
thing I remind them is to never let go of the rope,” said Sessman. “It’s your
lifeline until you’ve got [feet on the ground].”
With the combination of VMM-166 (REIN)’s high
flying and Battalion Landing Team 2/1’s rope suspension techniques, the 13th
Marine Expeditionary Unit’s toolbox is well stocked with tools for any clime