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Marines focus on amphibious roots, Asia-Pacific region

26 Sep 2013 | Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano

CAMP SCHWAB, Japan - The Battle of Inchon, during the Korean War, silenced critics of amphibious assault as the grueling combat which followed the landing resulted in a crucial victory and turned the tide of the war in favor of the U.S. The amphibious capabilities the Marines employed led to the recapture of the Republic of Korea’s capitol, Seoul, and severed crucial supply lines reinforcing most enemy forces south of the 38th parallel latitudinal line.

Approximately 150 Marines and sailors with Weapons Company disembarked the USS Ashland aboard assault amphibious vehicles to execute an amphibious assault landing off the coast of Camp Schwab Sept. 18 upon their return to Okinawa from the Republic of Korea.

The Marines and sailors of Weapons Co. are with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program. The AAVs are with Assault Amphibious Vehicle Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF.

During their training in the Republic of Korea, the Marines and sailors participated in a re-enactment of the landing at Inchon with their ROK counterparts to not only train for amphibious operations but also as part of a commemoration ceremony for the historical event, according to 1st Lt. Jonathan M. Brown, a platoon commander with AAV Co.

“We heard nothing but great things from our ROK brothers, and they continue to sing our praises and are excited about having more Marines back in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Brown. “The Corps in putting Marines back (in the Asia-Pacific region) and re-establishing a Marine Corps presence where we can provide security and operational capabilities other than warfare.”

Amphibious operations continue to be a pillar of the United States Marine Corps’ mission, according to Brown.

“The majority of the world is covered with water, and in coordination with naval assets, it is (important) to maintain our traditional role as ‘fighters from the sea,’” said Brown. “This is what separates us from other military branches.”

In keeping with the Corps’ amphibious roots, the AAV community has swam back into the spotlight, as it provides amphibious transportation for infantry units.

“We move around the globe by ship. However, we move from ship to shore via AAV, utility landing craft and air-cushioned landing craft,” said Capt. Paul M. Lowman, the commanding officer of Weapons Co. “While we have focused on ground combat, our fight on shore is solid, but the transition is where we needed to strengthen our capabilities.”

Therefore, training with the AAV and becoming familiar with it is key to an infantry unit’s overall competency in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Lowman.

“These exercises are one of numerous steps in the track to (perfecting) our core competency and are intended to develop proficiency in amphibious operations, but also to learn new concepts, procedures and techniques,” said Lowman.

For some of the Marines, it was the first time experiencing not only life aboard a U.S. Navy ship but also an AAV executing its amphibious capability.

“I would have never thought a tank could basically swim, and that caused many of us to be nervous,” said Lance Cpl. Lewis H. Sparks, an anti-tank missleman with Weapons Co. “When we came back in for the final exercise there definitely were no more butterflies in our stomach, so our focus was on training like we fight.”

Part of fostering the Marine Corps’ amphibious capabilities is the initial familiarization at the lowest levels, according to Sparks.

“I was able to reuse basic naval terminology, and experience and learn the intricacies of the daily life on ship, but most importantly work with our Navy brothers and sisters,” said Sparks. “As Marines, we’re constantly deployed on ships. This (training) allowed (our unit) to return to our amphibious roots.”

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