Boat Company tests raider mission capabilities
Raiders skimmed across the choppy waters off of Kin Blue beach in small black watercrafts; pounding surf nor the driving rain deterred them from their mission.
The Marines of Boat Company were testing their combat rubber raiding craft near Kin Blue beach July 13 in preparation for a possible real-world raid.
Boat Co., composed of Marines from Company F, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, specializes in ship-to-shore operations.
“The tradition of being a raider is something that needs to stay in the Marine Corps,” said 1st Sgt. Christopher L. Griffith, company first sergeant, Company F. “The 31st MEU is the last of all the MEUs in the Marine Corps to have an amphibious raid company. We are a part of history; we are the last living breed of that history to continue on into the future.”
The raiders focus on using stealth to their advantage, rather than storming heavily defended beaches.
“Doctrine says that we wouldn’t take a beach that is contested. We are clandestine, we come in at night and stealth is the key. We patrol to the objective from the beach, take the objective down, destroy whatever assets (the enemy) has, and withdraw,” said 2nd Lt. Antonio D. Aragon, a platoon commander with Company F. “This is pretty much our bread and butter.”
The scout swimmers are the first Marines on shore, swimming in from over 500 meters to secure the beach in advance of the main force, according to Cpl. Timothy A. Hernandez, a chief coxswain with Company F.
The remainder of the company will land once the beach has been secured and carry out the raid.
“The raid is assault, support, security,” said Aragon. “The security element will cordon off the area of the raid. The support element will establish a support-by-fire position on the objective, and will commence firing while the assault element goes in and takes down the objective.”
Company F took measures to make sure the training was as realistic as possible, requiring the Marines to operate inside a condensed time frame as they would in a combat situation.
“The battalion commander would pass word to us and we would develop his plan into (an operations) order for the Marines, and this is, by standards, supposed to take place within six hours from the order drop to the execution,” said Aragon. “We want to be as realistic as possible, so we will not give them the (operations) order until six hours before.”
The raiders spent their first day at Kin Blue practicing fundamentals and preparing for the raid.
“(The Marines) are basically doing a patrol on the water to an objective,” said Aragon. “We are going to do that in the daylight and using the crawl, walk, run method. We will transition to executing at night.”
For the raiders to be able to execute their mission successfully, they will have to master not only patrolling on the water but operations on land encompassing a wide range of skill sets.
“We have to have the coxswains, assault climbers and mechanics go to their courses, the raid leaders have to be trained to destroy caches,” said Aragon. “Training for this has been going on for over six months now.”
The nature of the raider mission precludes them from relying on outside units for support.
“Being a Boat Company, we are self-sufficient,” said Hernandez. “We have our own drivers, we build our boats, we break them down, we have our own mechanics to fix the boats, we pump our own fuel.”
Cross-training helps create a high level of teamwork and allows the Marines to step into new roles as needed in a combat scenario.
“A lot of the Marines have gone through different courses,” said Hernandez. “For instance, some of the scout swimmers have become coxswains and some of the coxswains have become scout swimmers.”
Teamwork plays a key role in the raider mission, making this training very important.
“Without pulling the boats out of the boathouse and bringing them here to the beach, we lose this skill set,” said Griffith. “There is so much that happens out there on the water. Teamwork is vital, and we can’t train that back in the barracks, the (operations) space or even the parade deck, so it is vital to come out here.”
The Marines have not lost sight of why the training is important, taking pride in their heritage and the role, according to Griffith.
“These Marines live, eat and sleep to be raiders,” said Griffith. “There is nothing more valuable to them than to be able to say they are raiders and BLT, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines.”
Article by Lance Cpl. Mark W. Stroud, Marine Corps Bases Japan