MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- A great deal of skill is required to perform a beach landing efficiently at night. For Marines serving with Charlie Company, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, there is no room for error while landing their amphibious assault vehicles under lowlight conditions.
More than 40 AAVs from 3rd AABn. participated in the night landing here, Aug. 25.
Before the landing, the Marines spent more than two hours operating in the Pacific Ocean, covering 14 kilometers to reach their objective.
“Performing that long of a movement with more than 40 vehicles takes a lot of preparation and control on our part,” said 1st Lt. Robert Busalacchi, a platoon commander serving with Charlie Company, 3rd AABn. “This exercise was really a test for our command and control capabilities. We really get a good look at how proficient we are at swimming over long distances.”
After landing, the Marines moved to occupy a MOUT town located close to the beach, simulating an actual beach assault where they would have to push through and complete their objective.
“This is one of the largest nighttime operations we have performed,” said Busalacchi, a native of Arbor Vitae, Wis. “The Marines have to use every tool at their disposal to make a large-scale landing like this work smoothly, especially at night.”
The nighttime landing was the first stage of a four-day field exercise designed to prepare the Marines for their upcoming deployment to Okinawa, Japan, where they will support joint operations in the Pacific.
“If we don’t do this kind of training now before we deploy we won’t know how we will operate overseas,” said 1st Lt. Tyrel Campbell, the executive officer of Charlie Co., 3rd AABn. “When we train with our allies, we want it to be between a group of professionals who both know what they are doing, so the training we perform will be mutually beneficial.”
The Marines will also have to be proficient in navigating through coral reefs and obstacles while they are deployed, making performing nighttime landings now more essential, Busalacchi said.
The Marines had to use their night vision goggles to see their objective clearly and locate other AAVs in the area.
“We always run a risk of collisions when we are working in lowlight conditions,” Busalacchi said. “That’s why communication and using all our nighttime capabilities are essential in these kind of operations.”
The Marines spent more than six hours inspecting their vehicles and preparing them for the landing before departing.
“A lot of preparation is involved before performing a nighttime landing,” said Campbell, a native of Salt Lake City. “We started planning this more than a month in advance.”
The Marines came away from the landing better prepared for future combat operations and more confident for their upcoming deployment, said Campbell.