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A light armored vehicle carrying Marines serving with Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion unloaded out of a landing craft air cushion during a strategic mobility exercise here, April 29, 2013. Landing craft air cushions are capable of carrying up to 65 tons over 70 miles between land and sea. The Marines learned the basics of loading and unloading from the hovercraft to prepare for upcoming deployments. (U.S. Marine Corps photo Cpl. Robert J. Reeves/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Robert Reeves

Light armored reconnaissance Marines join Navy for amphibious landing

7 May 2013 | Cpl. Robert Reeves

The Marines from Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, recently trained with sailors of Assault Craft Unit 5 in preparation for an amphibious landing exercise here, April 30.
       
The training enabled the Marines and sailors to hone their skills in an effort to stay mobile and versatile during amphibious operations.
       
“When we hit the beach it’s got to be quick. When those doors drop, we have to hit the beach as fast as we can, that’s what Marines do,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Jennings, a light armored vehicle commander with 1st LAR and Los Angeles native.
       
As the initial day of training came to a close, the Marines of 1st LAR had mastered the art of griping, a method of securing their LAVs to the Landing Craft Air Cushion.
       
"It’s not difficult working with the Marines," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Earhart a loadmaster instructor with ACU-5 and native of Fremont, Ohio. “The Marines are hardcore and motivated, and the sailors here are the same way."
       
The approximately 87 foot LCAC has the capability to transport 65 tons of military cargo, vehicles and personnel from ship to shore. The LCAC, which is a hovercraft, has the capability to maneuver on land as well as on water.
      
"You need the training because of safety and efficiency," said Chief Petty Officer Brian Rey, a craftmaster with ACU-5 and native of Ridgecrest, Calif., while commenting on the ability to transport Marine units. “The more we do training exercises here, the more we become more efficient in real life scenarios. The Marines need to know that LCACs are there to help and support them. The Marine out there on point needs to know that if needed, we can have LAVs, tanks or troops out to support quickly.” 
       
Before the sun had risen on the morning of April 30, an LCAC approached the beach. The Navy beachmaster gave the signal to the LCAC pilots to come ashore and offload Marines with 1st LAR. Once grounded, the Marines secured the perimeter of the landing site and pushed out to the trails of Red Beach. Within moments, the LCACs pulled back into the ocean and headed toward the horizon to bring more Marines and their LAVs to shore.
       
“First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion really has the capabilities to keep the Marine Corps at large in touch with its roots,” said Sgt. Corey Collison a native of Kennewick, Wash., and an LAV-AT (anti-tank variant) vehicle commander serving with 1st LAR. “Exercises like this are how we make sure to always perform and to hold on to our abilities to be amphibious.”
       
Transporting Marines and supplies from ship to shore is an important role for LCACs and LAVs during both combat and humanitarian efforts. The Marine Corps, with units still deployed in Afghanistan, is continuing to build its humanitarian capabilities throughout the world. These amphibious vehicles are another tool the Marines use in those efforts.
       
“It does not matter where we are in the world, the Marines have to be effective regardless of clime,” said Jennings. "Whenever you have a company of LAVs, you get the firepower and force. The LAV has multiple variations. From the bushmaster wielding LAV-25, to the LAV Anti-tank capable of mobile (Tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided) missile launch, we can recon, assault and secure the area."
       
With the ability to carry cargo, vehicles and Marines to otherwise inaccessible areas, the LCAC and LAVs will continue to play a vital role in Marine Corps operations around the globe.