Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, conducted a combat readiness exercise earlier this month at Fort Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The company performed the training to assess their ability to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations as they prepare to operate as a Maritime Raid Force with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
During the exercise, reconnaissance Marines departed from Parker, Ariz., and inserted into the exercise through a night time, double bag static-line, high altitude and high opening jump from 20,000 feet. The Marines traveled more than 30 kilometers under canopy to reach the objective’s landing zone.
Staff Sgt. Nick Rumple, a team leader with Bravo Company, said they came across challenges specific to the environment.
“We ended up encountering an ice layer at around 10,000 feet that caused our instruments and night vision goggles to fog and ice to form on our hands,” Rumple said. “When we hit the landing zone we all landed within 40 feet of one another, after being forced to change the LZ because the winds had shifted.”
The team descended on an unmarked and unlit drop zone at night with night vision goggles, which highlighted the Marines’ high level of expertise in conducting jumps under challenging circumstances.
The additional danger is part of these Marines’ unique job and serves as an effective way to meet their objectives on the battlefield, Rumple said.
“In a real world scenario, a high altitude, high opening jump seems to be the most viable option for a reconnaissance and surveillance insertion in the future,” Rumple said.
Gunnery Sgt. Rob Turek, the platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, said this training can only improve the reconnaissance community’s operational capability.
These capabilities serve as vital assets to the commander because reconnaissance Marines serve as his “eyes and ears” on the ground, Turek said.
“I have no doubt that these guys are the best parachutists in the Marines Corps right now,” Turek said. “With follow-on training and continued practice and development, they’re only going to get better. We now have the capability to conduct a HAHO jump in an effective way and execute it safely in order to complete our mission in line with the commander’s intent.”