MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE —Marines and sailors with Force Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, used jumping out of a V-22 Osprey as their method of infiltration during a three-day, field exercise starting Feb. 18, 2014, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“The main purpose of the mission was to rehearse reconnaissance and surveillance operations,” said Sgt. Michael Blair, an assistant team leader with the unit, and native of Franklinton, La. “Primarily what [the mission] entails is being able to clandestinely get eyes on the objective and send a report on it, with pictures and information of any and all activities that are going on with the objective.”
Marines used two different styles of jumping from the aircraft to conduct their insertion, static line and High Altitude Low Opening. A static line jump is when the static line cord is attached to one end of the aircraft and the other end to the top of the jumper’s deployment bag, where the canopy is packed into.
When the jumper exits the aircraft it causes the static line to pull the deployment bag out of the container, automatically releasing the canopy.
The static line and deployment bag stay with the aircraft as the jumper leaves, and is pulled back into the aircraft by the crew. In the HALO jumps, the Marines open their parachutes at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time.
Static line jumpers exited the aircraft from around 1,500 feet in the air, and the HALO jumpers from around 12,000 feet.
“There is always that sense of realism when you are getting ready to jump out of an aircraft,” said Sgt. Collin Johansen, a point man from Midlothian, Texas. ”But once you actually jump and go through your procedures correctly, you remember your training and it all falls into place.”
Once the Marines landed, they immediately readied their rifles, pulled out a compass, radioed their location and began to pack their parachutes in order to regroup.
The tactically efficient men immediately continued to the next part of their mission and headed for the tree line, each carrying more than 100 pounds of gear.
“It was rough,” said Johansen. “We were patrolling through swamps where some parts were ankle deep to waist deep. Some parts we decided not to move through because it was chest deep and that is not really feasible while carrying a 100 pound rucksack.”
They spent hours finding the best route through the swamps and marshes to reach their next objective more than five miles away. Once the objective is reached, the Marines have to gather intelligence without being detected by a notional enemy.
The Marines’ mission included collecting and reporting intelligence of actions on a bridge that provided access inside the objective where opposing forces were based, as well as obtaining visual confirmation of the American hostages. Collecting intelligence can prove to be just as challenging as getting to the objective.
“The biggest thing is reporting, because it is a lot harder than it sounds. Getting eyes on the objective and sending up exactly what is going on; you have to paint a picture with your words. Unless you’re taking pictures but then you have to get a lot closer,” said Blair.
With the field exercise considered a success the Marines began their exfiltration from the mission.
“We met every single information requirement that was sent down by the command. We got pretty good pictures, which helped them out a lot,” said Blair of his team’s performance.