CAMP LEJEUNE, NC (SGT Donovan Lee) – Critical Skills Operators and Special Operations Officers donned their gear and moved silently across open water toward their target ship. Onboard, a group of Marines acting as enemy role players milled about unaware of what was about to take place.
The team of operators with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command boarded the vessel and apprehended the role players, successfully completing a Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) operation.
The mission took place during a realistic military training exercise, called Raven, in Charleston South Carolina, Oct. 20 – Nov. 7.
VBSS are operations conducted by MARSOC and other agencies for maritime interdiction, designed to capture enemy vessels. It is also used to combat terrorism, piracy and smuggling, and to conduct customs, safety and other inspections.
The VBSS training and capability allows Marine Special Operations Teams to have another skill for the Theater Special Operations Commander to employ in real world operations.
“VBSS is one of the many tasks that MARSOC is expected to be able to do down range,” said the MARSOC exercise officer. “It gives MARSOC more flexibility as well as provides commanders more viable options when executing operations.”
A VBSS mission consists of CSOs and SOOs boarding a vessel by either boat, air or a combination of the two; and then conducting direct action on the ship, gathering intelligence, and or capturing a high value target.
“The teams don’t have to learn many new skills to be able to conduct a VBSS mission,” said a SOO with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion. “Once on the ship it is relatively the same as a direct action mission on a house.”
Up to this point VBSS has not been a part of every Raven exercise, but MARSOC is working to include it into every Raven training evolution as well as making it a standard operational concept.
“VBSS is not new to Raven, but it hasn’t been standardized,” said the MARSOC exercise officer. “We have only done it a time or two in previous Ravens, but now we are trying to establish it as a standard so that it is integrated into each Raven.”
VBSS is not a new operational concept to MARSOC and these types of missions tie back to the amphibious roots of the Marine Corps.
“We may not have been doing these sorts of operations to date, but if you look at our roots and where we came from, VBSS is something we need to be prepared to do,” said a SOO with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion.