GULFPORT, MS – Service members and staff with U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command executed a realistic military training exercise in the Gulf Coast region, Nov. 1-11 to prepare Marines and Sailors with 1st Marine Raider Battalion for their upcoming deployment.
MARSOC personnel partnered with different U.S. military forces and Marine Corps units during Unit Readiness Exercise RAVEN 18-02. RAVEN is the culminating exercise for Marine special operations companies and subordinate Marine special operations teams, and is designed to assess the MSOC’s and MSOTs’ capabilities to effectively complete their missions.
MARSOC’s G-7, the Training and Education Branch, conducts six such exercises each fiscal year. During these exercises, MARSOC units get their first opportunity to work with supporting units and subject matter experts they will likely work with during a deployment, said an exercise role player.
“The MSOTs get out what they put into the exercise,” said the G-7 exercise branch chief. “They are paired with a replicate partner-nation force and are provided a varied problem set that allows them to work through internal processes as an enabled MSOT.”
MARSOC units frequently deploy with intelligence, communication and logistics enablers to execute a variety of special operations missions to include sensitive activities, tactical collections, special reconnaissance and direct-action raids. It takes an average of three enablers for every shooter to execute a mission effectively, said the G-7 exercise officer.
RAVEN 18-02 depended upon the joint help of Army and Air Force units along with Marines from Marine Air Control Group-28 out of Cherry Point, N.C., and 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Marines with MACG-28 and II MIG participated as the partner nation force during this exercise. Critical skills operators with the MSOTs were tasked with training, advising and assisting the forces in preparation for operations.
“Supporting units, from the Marine Expeditionary Forces, provide a list of desired training objectives to be accomplished during RAVEN, based off their unit’s training plan,” said the G-7 exercise branch chief. “The MSOTs design a program of instruction that accomplishes these objectives, while meeting the required training to allow for a successful bi-lateral execution of the event.”
The G-7 assigns mentors to the MSOTs to better evaluate the units’ effectiveness and abilities as they train their partner-nation force role players. The mentors offer operational experience and leadership to the units in order to prepare them for the deployed environment. To add more value to the overall exercise, mentors are assigned to the teams according to their recent deployed experience within the units’ anticipated area of operations. Those areas of operations are Special Operations Command (SOC) Pacific, SOC Central, or SOC Africa.
“They are provided critical feedback from mentors across the major subordinate commands, who have recent and relevant operational experience,” said the G-7 exercise branch chief.
The units’ ability to train realistically in populated areas is also critical to the exercise. Marines with MARSOC and the role players practiced insertion and breaching, fast-roping, close quarter combat, along with other critical skills. Because each RAVEN exercise spans across three southern states on the Gulf Coast, the G-7 exercise officer said the training would not be possible without the cooperation and assistance from local government officials and the community.
“Rapport is important and relationships matter,” said the G-7 exercise officer. “The local community feels they are a part of our unit readiness and success.”
Being able to complete these simulated deployment missions in and around cities and in populated areas presents valuable elements to the exercise. This prepares the units for similar situations and environments when deployed.
“Being able to replicate real-world situations during this exercise is key to determining the units’ readiness for deployment,” said a mentor. “It allows us, and the teams, to see how effective they can be in a situation as close to a real-life scenario that we can give them.”
Overall, Marines gained self and unit awareness, learned their strengths and weaknesses, and determined what changes they need to make before deployment based on what they learned during the exercise.