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Team Andersen partners with Marines to participate in realistic urban training exercise

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Andersen-based U.S. Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron-25 partnered with Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to execute their semi-annual Realistic Urban Training Exercise Jan. 13-15 in Hagatna, Guam.

The HSC-25 provided transport to the 31st MEU's Maritime Raid Force as they exercised special insert techniques in support of limited scale raids to put their capabilities to the test, taking them out of familiar training territory and giving them a variety of variables to manage, 31st MEU officials said.

This exercise allowed for joint cooperation. 

"It's always a great time getting to conduct large scale exercises with our sister services," said Lt. J.G. Dean Viane, HSC-25 pilot.  "Throughout the exercise everyone involved received high-level training and a boost in morale. Exercises like this take a lot of time and hard work to plan, so it's amazing when you get to see everything unfold so perfectly."

Coordination for this training began more than a year ago.  Planners from 31st MEU made multiple trips from Japan to Guam to coordinate with multiple agencies from the Government of Guam, HSC-25, HSC-85, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to create scenarios as realistic as possible. 

As the host unit at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the 36th Wing has an expansive mission that relies on the Team Andersen concept to provide the highest quality peacetime and wartime support to project global power and reach from our vital location in the Pacific. Guam's strategic location and terrain makes it ideal for training.

"Everything we do in the RUTEX from live sniper rounds to fast roping out of a MHS-60 Knighthawk helicopter can be done on base," said Col. Sean Wester, III Marine Expeditionary Force's Special Operations Training Group, officer in charge. "(But) doing these things in an urban area allows us to conduct those very technical skills in a very realistic setting and it gives us a degree of training that far exceeds anything that can be done on a normal training complex on base."

At one point in the exercise Marine sniper teams laid hidden across town in an old vacant building and engaged an enemy threat in support of the MRF's Force Reconnaissance Platoon who was inserted by helicopters. The Marines quickly moved to secure a perimeter around the target structures before they cleared the infrastructure and gathered as much intelligence as they could before boarding the Knighthawks and returning to Andersen.

"The live fire sniper shot during the exercise is my favorite part of the training," Wester said. "To allow the snipers to execute their field craft and trade in a public live fire arena and see them hit their target dead on is exciting to see."

After completing the training, the Marines are now certified in specialized limited skill raids and will be the crisis response force throughout the Pacific during their upcoming deployment.