Sgt. Paris Capers -- U.S. Marines and Sailors with the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group/ 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a long range raid to make the area safe for the insertion of a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team as part of Composite Training Unit Exercise, Oct. 26, 2015.
During COMPTUEX— and in all of the MEU’s pre-deployment packages since August— the Boxer ARG/13th MEU has been conducting operations in the fictional country of Black and the regions surrounding it, actively executing missions across the range of military operations.
Within the exercise, the 13th MEU prepared to deploy a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team into the country of Black to determine what support the local people would need following a recent natural disaster. Before the survey team could be employed, the Marines of “Golf” Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/1, needed to clear members of an extremist organization from the surrounding areas. This mission supported a larger mission that tested the “Fighting 13th's” ability to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as test the Boxer ARG/13th MEU’s proficiency in long range raids. Long range raids and humanitarian assistance disaster relief missions have been identified as two of 13 MEU mission essential tasks, meaning that proficiency in these missions is necessary in order to certify the MEU as deployment-ready.
The Marines arrived by air in MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, strategically inserting squads to move through the village and flush out the enemy. Golf Company’s machine gun section dug in on a dominating mountainside overlooking the village to provide support by fire with M240B heavy machine guns. Across the village, Third Platoon served as a security element, covering the most likely route for enemy reinforcements while sapping the enemy’s attention and resources. At the same time, to Third Squad’s left, First Squad rushed forward while Second Squad covered their movement from a hillside. The two squads bounded one after another, gaining ground until they were flowing through the gates of the compound to fight the enemy out from house to house and street to street.
“During COMPTUEX, missions like these help to coordinate our movements from the individual fire teams up to squads and beyond,” said Lance Cpl. Urijah Aceves, 2nd Platoon’s Second Squad Leader. “Our guys are always cycling through and thinking ‘where are my friendlies right now, and where is the enemy right now?’ so they can move within our plan safely and have the support of our other elements. All those things and more can lead to success.”
After entering the village, Second and Third Squad split ways to clear different segments of the town. They pushed into the buildings to ensure no enemy was left behind to impede the efforts of the survey team. The Marines eliminated all enemies they encountered in the village and corralled the remaining enemy into a building which 13th MEU intelligence reported as an improvised explosive device factory.
Capt. Shannon Ashley, Golf Company commander, anticipated the enemy would flee into the IED factory during the assault, and emplaced a Military Information Support Operation asset with Second Platoon. Sgt. Samuel Ellis, a psychological operations noncommissioned officer, called out to the insurgents hiding in the factory over the Next Generation Loud Speaker, explaining that the Marines would give them no quarter for aggression and urging them to surrender. After Ellis’ announcements began, five of the combatants immediately surrendered to the Marines, and another three shortly thereafter, avoiding lost resources and the possibility of death or injuries for any more Marines.
“It’s important that you know when to go in with the guns and when you might be able to talk the bad guys down,” said Ashley. “When we have enablers like [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] or [Military Information Support Operations] Marines— we use them to show young Marines they also have important capabilities on top of basic riflemen skills. Today, during training, the MISO Marine kept us from running into a bad spot, and these guys won’t forget that if they end up in a similar one.”
COMPTUEX is the last hurdle for the “Fighting 13th" before Certification Exercise in November, which will be the final exercise and evaluation in the MEU’s preparation for deployment to the Pacific and Central Command areas of responsibility next year.