CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
When your job is to conduct reconnaissance missions, being proficient in different methods of insertion and extraction can mean the difference between mission accomplishment and failure. On March 15, 2015, Marines from Force Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, conducted one method of aerial insertion from a CH-53E Super Stallion during a reconnaissance and surveillance training exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
With 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing supporting Force Company with CH-53s, reconnaissance Marines were inserted with M1161 Internally Transportable Vehicles, a jeep-like vehicle with a collapsible roll cage and mounted weapons designed to fit inside helicopters.
With the wind from the helicopter’s blades whipping dust and vegetation into the air, the Marines barreled out of the aircraft and assumed a secure position as the ITV rolled down the ramp. The Marines rushed to assemble the collapsible canopy and mount their weapon systems on the ITV as the aircraft withdrew from the drop zone. After securing each weapon system, ranging from the M240G medium machine gun to the MK-19 grenade launcher, the Marines established radio communications.
1st Reconnaissance Battalion provides task-organized forces in order to conduct amphibious reconnaissance, ground reconnaissance, and specialized insertion and extraction. Force Company provides such capabilities as well, along with deep ground reconnaissance, surveillance, battlespace shaping and limited-scale raids.
The Marines are building their insertion capabilities with the ITVs during a routine reconnaissance and surveillance mission, said Staff Sgt. Jonathan R. Ingersoll, a field radio operator with the company. When a reconnaissance team brings intelligence back to their battlefield commander, they give him a detailed report of what is waiting for him and his Marines.
“It took roughly four minutes for each of the teams to evacuate the helicopter and configure the canopy and weapon system on the ITV,” said Master Sgt. Vincent A. Marzi, the operations chief for the company.
When conducting reconnaissance and surveillance missions, Marines with Force Company can be inserted with the ITVs, which is only one of many methods of insertion. From there, the Marines would separate from the main force and continue their insertion on foot with only their personal equipment.
Being inserted and conducting reconnaissance is no easy task, but we make sure our Marines can be ready in minutes, said Ingersoll.
“In reality, each team would be inserted simultaneously,” said Capt. Lawrence W. Ault, the executive officer of Force Company. “Our job as recon Marines is to finish the mission as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Every few minutes the Force Company Marines conducted radio checks, made sure each ITV’s systems were in order, and conducted security sweeps. The Marines of Force Company know that neglecting these procedures could end a mission — disastrously.
While the Marines conduct similar training events regularly, the command always pushes their Marines to excel beyond what is expected, said Marzi.
“Exceeding beyond the limitations set down by others shall be my goal. Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life,” reads the Reconnaissance Marine Creed.
With the words from their creed fueling them, recon Marines push toward perfection in their craft. With the first phase of their training complete, the Marines continue to find new and inventive ways to support the 1st Marine Division on the ground.