RIMPAC 2016 is the largest multinational maritime exercise that serves as a unique training opportunity helping participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of the world’s oceans.
The Royal Canadian Air Force units that worked with HMH-462 were 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron from Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
From July 25 to Aug. 3, 1st Marine Regiment conducted a Marine Corps combat readiness evaluation for 3rd Bn., 1st Marines, to evaluate core mission essential task proficiency and battalion readiness prior to the unit’s deployment.
On July 28, HMH-462’s CH-53E Super Stallions and 450 THS’ CH-147F Chinook helicopters supported the exercise by providing troop and equipment transport.
“We’re utilizing [the CH-147F] to its full potential in this exercise, we can move up to 33 troops,” said RCAF Maj. Cpl. Greg Bullivant, a flight engineer with 450 THS. “The Canadians have used the opportunity to use the Marine Corps’ machine gun range. We have five CH-146 Griffin helicopters here that are used to escort aircraft for the Chinook.”
The initial phase of this training is troop insertion.
“This is our combat readiness exercise evaluating the infantry battalion’s readiness to conduct mission essential tasks that are assigned to the battalions prior to deployment,” said Marine Corps Maj. James Armstrong, battalion executive officer of 3rd Bn., 1st Marines. “Right now is the initial insert into the operations. We’ve been given a fragmentary order that there is an oppositional force that has invaded our allies and we’re going in to help those allies to take ground back.”
Infantry Marines on the ground moved to the landing zone with the Marine Corps’ CH-53s and Canada’s CH-147 to secure the landing zone and moved out from there to begin conducting offensive operations.
The CH-53s and the CH-146s moved the whole infantry battalion of Marines in a little over an hour, according to Armstrong.
“In the course of the next several days, we’ll be working our way through Camp Pendleton, attacking different objectives, working through different problem sets to validate the Marines already in training and to show where we sit and also to challenge us for some additional operations,” said Armstrong. “That’s one of the unique things about this training, the exact duration is somewhat unknown. The whole idea is to replicate a combat scenario where the Marines don’t have all the information going into the problem. Some of it will develop as the situation progresses.”
Together, the Marine and Canadian aircraft provided close and deep air support for the infantry battalions to help them validate their tactics and achieve training objectives.
“We love an opportunity to integrate with ally forces,” said Armstrong. “It really shows us what their capabilities are and it gives us the opportunity to do in training what can potentially happen when deployed.”
As the training goes, the RCAF believes it’s a great opportunity to work with the Marine Corps as well, according to Bullivant.
“We’ve tried to absorb as much as we can from the Marine Corps while we’re here so we can extend our own capability,” said Bullivant.