MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The sun hangs high in the cloudless sky. All is quiet except the whisper of tree tops rustling in the breeze and water lapping on the shore in the distance. Suddenly, gun fire rings out and a Marine yells, "CONTACT FRONT, CONTACT FRONT!"
The Marines of the ground combat element, Security Cooperation Task Force Africa Partnership Station 2012, are expected to use suppressing fire and bounding maneuvers to make their way to a beach extraction point after receiving enemy contact during extraction drills on the New River aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 10.
Moments later, the Riverine Patrol Boats receive the radio transmission and the engines roar to life as the boats race toward the extraction point.
The Marines worked alongside the sailors of Riverine Squadron 3, Detachment 2, during the extraction drills. The Riverine sailors will join the SCTF Marines aboard the USS Fort McHenry when they deploy in support of APS-12, in the coming months.
ETA One Minute: The sound of gun fire steadily grows as the boats make their way to retrieve the patrol of Marines.
"With the deployment and the different operations we'll be conducting over there, this training lets everyone get to know each other, how we all operate and react to worst case scenarios where we would take enemy fire," Petty Officer 1st Class Shaun McGinnis, patrol officer, Riverine 3, Det. 2, said. "We're basically training for the worst and hoping for the best."
ETA 30 Seconds: The Marines continue to discharge suppression fire as they reach the shore line and pop smoke grenades to designate their location.
"The Marines are certainly getting a lot out of this and as a whole everybody is gaining a lot of knowledge and experience," Capt. Christopher Rhinehart, GCE commander, SCTF APS-12, said.
Almost immediately, the three RPBs speed around the river bend with incredible agility and begin to unleash an extraordinary amount fire power on the shoreline, suppressing the enemy as the Marines quickly board one of the beached boats.
"These guys know what they're doing and they're very knowledgeable," Cpl. Chris Willroth, fireteam leader, 1st squad, rifle platoon, GCE SCTF APS-12.
Once all of the Marines are safely aboard the beached boat, it hastily begins to maneuver itself off the beach with incredible swiftness until free of land. Then as quickly as they came, the boats disappear around the river bend making their escape and concluding the drill.
"This training is phenomenal," Rhinehart said. "It's just phenomenal to bring together two completely different assets and watch them really do 'combined operations.’"