Story by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marines with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted a fast-roping and Special Patrol Insertion and Extraction rigging exercise, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2015.
The exercise consisted of two parts utilizing UH-1Y Huey helicopters operated by Marines with Medium Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I MEF.
During the first part of the exercise, the Marines practiced inserting into a landing zone by descending down a rope suspended from a UH-1Y. This maneuver, called fast-roping, provides Marines with a unique capability for insertion in otherwise inaccessible locations.
“This is a good tool in our tool box,” said Lance Cpl. Mark Toub, a reconnaissance man with Company A, 1st Recon Bn., 1st MarDiv, I MEF. “It’s mostly used where there’s dense vegetation so it’s hard for the bird to land.”
The second part of the training event focused on SPIE training, a setup in which Marines are suspended from a rope beneath the aircraft using special equipment. This method is also used to allow Marines to insert and extract into hard to reach places, freeing the Marines’ arms to carry equipment.
The integration of air and ground elements allows Marines to be an effective, expeditionary force.
“This is what the Marine Corps is built around,” said 1st Lt. John Zimmer, a UH-1Y Huey pilot with HMLA 369. “We are here to support what they do on the ground side.”
The development and practice of special capabilities such as fast-roping and SPIE rigging, along with the interoperability of air and ground units, allows the Marines of I MEF to be prepared for any challenge, anywhere.