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Marines perfect tactical insertions during HRST course

28 Oct 2014 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan Boynes

Since its inception, the Marine Corps has been the premiere fighting force globally renowned for its versatility, professionalism and expeditionary capabilities. Maintaining a force able to respond quickly and effectively requires constant and vigorous training.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment held true to the high standards set by those before them during a two-week Helicopter Rope Suspension Technique Master course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 13 – 24, 2014. During the course the students learned a variety of knotting, Special Patrol Insertion/ Extraction (SPIE) rigging, and rappelling techniques allowing for easy insertion into environments not fit for conventional aircraft landings.

“A Marine who completes the course comes out more versatile and functional,” said Sgt. Vincent Campochiaro, a HRST master instructor with Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force. “They become proficient in rappelling and rigging out of aircraft and they can take that knowledge to train other Marines within their units.”

The first half of the course is comprised of practical application, rigging techniques and rappelling down fixed structures. The second half is composed of aircraft-based events testing the Marine’s newly learned skills.

“We spent multiple hours a day getting comfortable with the knots and rigging techniques,” said Cpl. Brett Scklasky, a Marine with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. “The course forces you to be very perceptive of the smallest of details. Even the smallest oversight can leave a Marine seriously injured. When it came to the training, everyone counted on everyone else to be spot on. Once we were finally flying in the aircraft, there was no room for error, and in that respect, everyone built confidence in their abilities and in the team’s effectiveness.”

Once a Marine completes the course, the skills gained can pay huge dividends during combat operations. Tactical insertions and extractions in areas vital for mission accomplishment no longer are stifled by terrain or other geographical obstacles. This gives leaders far more leniency when making decisions both in the planning process and in real time. 

“Knowing that the Marines are leaving the course with a lot more knowledge and tactical capabilities leaves me very proud as an instructor and as a Marine,” Campochiaro said. “It’s easy for a person to overlook the significance of training like this, but it really is a prime example of the expeditionary nature of the Marine Corps and its ability to accomplish the mission, no matter the obstacles.”