U.S. Marines with Force Reconnaissance Company, Royal Marines with British Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron, and Mexican Marines participated in a helocast exercise during Bold Alligator 17 at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 19.
Helocasting is an operation where a unit inserts into water from a helicopter then boards a combat rubber raiding craft, continuing by boat to the on-shore objective.
As part of BA17, a multinational amphibious exercise, the training simulated a unit inserting into a contested environment to execute complex shaping operations necessary to carry out an amphibious landing and attack to enhance the force’s expeditionary capabilities.
“To do this kind of insert, there’s a progression of training you have to complete,” said Capt. Joseph Accountius, a platoon commander with Force Reconnaissance Company. “It begins in the pool; everyone has to be qualified for intermediate water survival at a minimum, for reconnaissance Marines, they have to complete advanced water survival. From there we move to tower entries, then we have to practice our small boat handling skills, that includes surf passages, operating an out-board motor and then maneuvering. From there we can put it all together and do it on a helicopter.”
There are potential concerns when working with multiple nations during an exercise, from procedural differences to linguistic concerns. Through training and cooperation, the unit was able to work through it all to accomplish their mission.
“Helocasting is something we do on a regular basis, but to do it with two other nations is quite an experience and we got a lot of good training out of it,” said Sgt. Eric Walraven, a radio team operator with Force Reconnaissance.
Each team was able to share specific tactics involved in the insert itself and the reconnaissance that gets them past the beach and to the next objective. The experience built their knowledge because they had to learn how to adapt to each other as the exercise was happening.
“In the event we work with allied nations again, this has definitely been a stepping stone into bigger operations,” said Walraven. “Our three nations coming together has made us improve and work effectively together.”