MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS - Soldiers aboard raiding craft paddled toward the pristine shores of eastern Oahu to quietly infiltrate and collect reconnaissance intel, and then quietly depart, during waterborne training, on Nov. 29.
This advanced boat training was conducted by soldiers assigned to Comanche Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, "Raiders," 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, using F470 Zodiacs (combat rubber raiding craft).
"The training we're trying to instill in the Soldiers is familiarization with the Zodiacs," said Staff Sgt. Joe Bazzano, a team leader assigned to Comanche Troop, 3-4th Cav. Regt. "So they're comfortable to go out and execute infiltration and exfiltration methods via the Zodiac."
For many of the Soldiers in Comanche Troop, boat operations was an introduction to a reconnaissance method.
"It's showing them how you set the boats up, showing them the (standard operating procedure) is for the set up the boat is," Bazzano said. "Teaching them how to operate the engine, because a lot of the Soldiers never operated engines or a boat before for that matter."
"Overall at the end day, have them familiarized with the boat," he continued. "Not necessarily everyone is an expert at it, but now everyone can get on a Zodiac boat and feel comfortable, and know how to operate the basics."
Capt. Richard Hood, commander, Comanche Troop, 3-4th Cav. Regt., stated boat operation training was normally performed via aircraft to conduct helocasts. However, the emphasis of the training was training on motorized water craft.
"We just acquired boat motors and we're using them for the first time," Hood said. "What's happening is we're taking some classes this morning on how to utilize those motors."
Comanche Troop prepared their boats by learning how to properly tie their gear down in the center of the Zodiacs, and ensured their life vests were properly attached and flippers were fitted before pushing out to sea.
The troopers conducted a practical exercise by going about a kilometer from shore and perform boat operations as a maneuver recon element toward the beach, Hood said.
"Scout swimmers will go in and swim that first kilometer, recon the beach and just inside the beach establish some markings where boats need to land, the boats will land," he said. "The rest of the Soldiers in the boats obviously not as tired as the scout swimmers. So scout swimmers secure the boats while the rest of the troop moves further inland to conduct a reconnaissance mission. Then scout swimmers prep the boats again for exfiltration."
Once the mission was accomplished, the troopers were to head back out to sea with their intelligence, without getting compromised by the enemy further inland.
Spc. Wavon Parker, an infantryman assigned to Comanche Troop, 3-4th Cav. Regt., said the training went well.
"They taught us how to fix the engines," Parker said. "How to maneuver in the boats, which is the coxswain, that's the (team leader's) job. The (assistant team leader) will be doing the same thing as well."
"The thousand meter swim is what I like most about the training," he said. "It's awesome and a great experience. Something that was challenging and showed a little bit of adversity, but it pushed you. The Soldiers did well and it's probably the best training I've had so far."