Photo Information

Marines assigned to Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, prepare to fast-rope as a fire team aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 17, 2015. The Marines practiced fast-roping as a team to gain proficiency in order to effectively insert from a helicopter.

Photo by Cpl. William Perkins

Strong hand, weak hand: 1st Recon slides into action

19 Aug 2015 | Cpl. William Perkins 1st Marine Division

Marines assigned to Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, fast-roped as part of Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 17, 2015.

“[The Marines] are practicing HRST operation proficiency and efficiency in rappelling and fast-roping out of helicopters,” said Gunnery Sgt. Brett Lane, a reconnaissance man assigned to Co. A., 1st Recon Bn.

At this initial training, it was the first time many of the Marines had the chance to get comfortable with the idea of rappelling or fast-roping out a helicopter, he added. They took the crawl-walk-run approach, first mastering the techniques without gear. After completing those rounds safely, Marines moved to more advanced methods and added elements such as gear and weapons.

“We’re making sure we hit all the key points prescribed in the Marine Corps order,” said Lane. “Making sure they meet all the training requirements prior to getting on helicopters and also working some of the small details to refine for actual fast-roping or rappelling operations.”

“Fast-roping is the primary method of insertion out of all of the HRST operations that a recon Marine will use on an objective site, during reconnaissance surveillance or a mid-scale raid,” explained Lane.

This preparation is a stepping stone for the rest of the training to be executed in the following months. The Marines are required conduct multiple special purpose insertion and extraction methods and HRST is one of those, stated Lane.

One of the scenarios rehearsed is responding to a shifting helicopter due to enemy fire therefore exposing the Marines to potential danger. Marines were taught and tested on the proper way to perform a lock-out, a technique in which the Marine locks his legs around the rope, holding the Marine in place and preventing others from potentially becoming casualties.

“After doing it slick, we move up to combat equipment,” said Lane. “Once we see they can do that, we start moving into the speed runs where we have four to eight [Marines] going at once, as fast as they can.”

Being exposed to potential danger while on the rope, the reconnaissance teams rely on speed to keep them safe.

“We’re in danger in the helicopter and we’re in danger on the rope,” explained Lane. “Once we get on the deck, we can take care of ourselves.”


1st Marine Division