USS ESSEX, At sea - Three MV-22B Ospreys land on San
Clemente Island, Calif., simultaneously. A dust storm swarms
around the Marines as they run out of the aircraft and set
up 360 degrees of security, waiting for their next move.
As the birds fly away, squads break away to their
designated objectives to secure two towns on the island.
Each Marine within Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd
Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, knows the scheme of
maneuver, where they are supposed to be, what to do if they
have a casualty and when they are providing cover for their
Several moving parts go into each
raid and the plan constantly changes throughout the mission.
U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, wait to depart the USS Essex (LHD 2) during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of San Diego, March 27, 2015. Before departing the ships, combat cargo Marines organize everyone in order of departure and check each person off as they are leaving, keeping full accountability of ships personnel. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anna Albrecht)
This was the scene on March 22, 2015 ... as Marines with BLT
3/1, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, executed a raid on San
Clemente Island during Composite Training Unit Exercise, or
This raid was only a fraction of the
training the Marines have done, and will do, in preparation
for the MEU's deployment.
U.S. Marine Cpl. Aaron
Telles, a machine gun squad leader with 2nd platoon, Lima
Co., BLT 3/1, explained the process they go through up to
actually performing a mission. He said when they receive the
warning order, they are immediately making sure they have
all the proper gear and figuring out details such as how
they are going to mark things like buildings and the lead
“Typically, the squad leaders will get
together with the platoon commander and he will say what we
have to do and generally the direction he wants us to do
it,” Telles said. “From there, the [squad leaders] say how
they are going to implement that plan.”
initial plan is laid out, the Marines go over rehearsals and
work out the mission as an entire company.
do rehearsals, we look at the mission, see what we're going
to have to do, such as room clearing, and we'll practice
everything from basic two-man clearing of an open door to
more complex things such as stairwells, multiple rooms, and
multiple entries,” Telles said. “We go from A-to-Z in the
most thorough manner possible based on the mission set.”
In the final hours before they leave for the mission,
each individual Marine is prepared with all the proper gear,
knowledge and training.
Telles explained that at
that point, his focus moves to the well-being and safety of
the Marines in his squad and how he is going to adapt and
employ them in the mission.
“In my mind, I just think
about how I'm no longer that trigger-puller; I have to fight
[for] my squad,” Telles said.
The hours, days, and
months the Marines spend together pay off because they know
each other in and out. They can accurately predict what each
other will do next and what they're thinking.
“Everybody knows how each one of us move, we know how each
one of us think,” Telles said. “We're very close, very close
That bond the Marines form throughout the time
spent living and training together gives them a different
mindset while implementing the plan of attack.
don't care how much ammo these guys can carry, I don't care
how good they are behind the machine gun,” Telles said. “The
‘good enough' is when they can keep each other safe and I
don't have to call anyone's mom [with bad news].”
When the Marines land back onto the USS Essex (LHD 2), they
don't stop training. While the mission is still fresh in
their minds they share what they experienced during a
debrief. There, they learn more about the enemy and about
themselves. Capturing those lessons helps them improve each
time, making them even more prepared for the next mission.
These Marines will continue training and improving
during COMPTUEX. Their next at sea period, Certification
Exercise (CERTEX), they will face more challenging
scenarios. By the time they leave for deployment, Lima
Company, and all the other Marines and Sailors of the MEU
will be ready for anything that comes their way.
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Anna Albrecht
The U.S. Marines
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