MIDDLE EAST -- Marines from reconnaissance platoon, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, took to the rugged hills of a range here for live-fire ambush training alongside regional forces May 25.
The training focused on reinforcing basic infantry skills for both units and gave the host nation troops an opportunity to see Marine tactics in action.
The evolution opened with an ambush demonstration conducted by a nine-man team from the platoon. After dividing into assault, security and support-by-fire elements, the Marines launched an attack down the slopes of a steep hill, laying machinegun, small arms and grenade fire on targets while using smoke grenades and pyrotechnics to communicate shifts in fire.
By providing an example of how a Marine unit conducts an ambush, the platoon helped reinforce to the mechanized unit with which they were training that attention to fundamental skills can make the difference between victory and defeat, said Cpl. Kyle J. MacIntyre, an automatic rifleman from the platoon and a native of Holmes, Pa.
"It is good for them to see that the tactics and techniques we use really do work if you put everything together," he explained.
Working with a foreign force had benefits for the reconnaissance Marines as well, said Gunnery Sgt. Dan R. Howe, platoon sergeant for recon platoon.
"The sharing of tactics is beneficial to both militaries," observed the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, native.
After wrapping up the bilateral portion of the training, the Marines continued their ambush training, with team and platoon-sized rehearsals.
Although springing ambushes is not the primary mission of a reconnaissance unit, it is one of the many capabilities the elite platoon brings to the fight, said Howe.
"Ambushing is part of the recon package," he said. "It is something we could easily be tasked with on the fly."
The platoon also took advantage of the remoteness of the desert range to employ virtually all of its lethal firepower.
"This was the most freedom we have had on a range during this deployment," said Howe. "It enabled us to fire multiple weapon systems on the same range."
Following several simulated ambushes, the recon Marines turned their training efforts to a weapon commonly used to initiate surprise attacks: the M-18A1 Claymore anti-personnel mine.
Each of the 24 Marines in the platoon took a turn emplacing and detonating the mines, giving them valuable hands-on experience with a weapon system that is nearly always carried along on reconnaissance missions, said Howe.
The platoon next mounted-up in their humvees to conduct shoot-on-the-move training, annihilating targets with machine guns, rifles and grenade launchers.
With more than 10,000 rounds to expend during the course of the day's training, the recon Marines gained plenty of useful trigger-time, a basic but essential skill due to the array of firepower the unit employs, said Cpl. John W. Hindy, an automatic rifleman from the recon platoon and an Ann Arbor, Mich., native.
"Obviously, the more time you are behind a gun the more familiar you become with it," he stated.
Being well-trained is also critical to the survivability of a recon unit, he continued. "In a recon unit, you don't have the support of an infantry line company. All you have is your guys, so you are always reliant on the skills your team and your platoon possess."
The 26th MEU is in the fifth month of a routine, scheduled deployment that began Jan. 6 as the landing force for the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group.
In addition to BLT 2/2, the MEU is composed of its Command Element; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 (Reinforced); and Combat Logistics Battalion 26.
For more on the MEU, including news, videos and contact information, visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.