MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- As Marines climb aboard their light armored vehicles, the deafening noise of the C-17 Globemaster and its four large turbofan engines echoes across the airfield during a strategic mobility exercise here, April 24, where land vehicles joined forces with aircraft.
Marines serving with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion embarked on a two-day mission to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to learn the basics of loading and unloading their vehicles from aircraft.
After loading the LAVs onto the C-17s, the Marines were flown back to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., where they unloaded their vehicles from the aircraft.
1st LAR Marines must be able to quickly load and unload their vehicles in order to rapidly deploy to any part of the world at a moment’s notice.
“This capability if used properly allows us to get into a battle space quickly, get off the plane and complete our objectives,” said Staff Sgt. Case Unfried, a platoon sergeant serving with 1st LAR.
The LAVs the Marines use carry a M242 Bushmaster chain gun, making it a lethal force on the battlefield.
“We are the reconnaissance element of the ground forces, so we need to be able to engage and eliminate any threats that might present themselves to us on our missions,” said Staff Sgt. Phillip Broberg, a master gunner serving with Delta Company, 1st LAR.
Once the Marines arrive at their destination they have the capabilities to perform either counter-insurgency missions, or humanitarian missions.
“Not everything we do is combat-related,” said Lt. Col. Gilbert Juarez, the commanding officer of 1st LAR. “We are capable of helping the local populace with supplies and other items they might need.”
“Our Marines will continue dedicating themselves to their training, and to fighting future conflicts,” the San Diego native said. “I have complete faith that all my Marines are up to any challenge.”
Whether it is a terrorist attack, or a hurricane stricken land the Marines of 1st LAR have the rapid deployment capabilities to reach their objectives.
The primary aircraft used to transport LAVs over long distance is the C-17 Globemaster. The aircraft can hold up to 175,000 pounds, and with a maximum airspeed of 515 miles per hour, it is ideal for transporting these vehicles long distances.
“This really adds a whole new level to our deployment capabilities,” said Unfried, a Tehachapi, Calif., native. “This means we can respond to any incidents that happen worldwide.”
The speed of the Globemaster makes the deployment of Marines a much quicker process then by traditional means aboard a ship.
“Usually when we need to get anywhere far away, it's by ship,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Klawier, a company commander serving with Delta Company, 1st LAR. “Using C-17s, we can get heavy fire power into the fight a lot quicker.”