Camp Pendleton, California — Marines with 2nd Platoon, Force Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, conducted helocast exercises off the coast of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Nov. 19.
Helocasting is a method of insertion into coastal regions in which Marines jump from helicopters into the ocean and use combat rubber raiding crafts. They are then capable of moving quickly and silently to the shore to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations.
Corporal Jeff Sanders, a reconnaissance Marine with Force Company, said insertion methods like helocasting give the Marines of Force Company another tool to complete their mission.
“Helocasting is really vital to us when it comes to doing R&S missions in pretty much any coastal area,” Sanders said. “It drops us close to the beach but still allows us to make our way onto land undetected.”
Helocast training exercises enhance the Marines’ tactical proficiency so they are prepared to deploy wherever they are needed.
Staff Sgt. Blake Flannery, a reconnaissance Marine with Force Company, said the training is an excellent way for Marines to learn more efficient ways to conduct drops.
“Whenever we go on training ops our main priority is to perfect the skills that allow us to complete our mission and find ways to improve our standard operating procedures,” said Flannery.
“We take everything that happens during the training, good and bad, and evaluate and study it over and over to find ways to make us the best we can be.”
While all training exercises have some safety concerns, jumping from a helicopter into the ocean presents its own unique risks.
Sanders said the members of Force Company take Marine Corps safety procedures very seriously.
“There are a lot of different aspects that come into play when we are helocasting,” said Sanders. “From the moment we step inside the bird until the time we are back on the beach, safety is our number one priority. The last thing we want is for our training to end with a trip to the hospital.”
As the Marine Corps re-shifts its focus on its naval roots, conducting sea-to-shore training plays an essential role in successfully fulfilling the needs of the Corps.
“The Marine Corps is a unique beast,” Flannery said. “We are meant to be on the water and to be able to go ashore wherever we are needed at a moment’s notice, and I’m going to ensure that all of the Marines with me can do just that.”