TINIAN, North Marianas Islands–
U.S. infantry Marines, along with Guamanian National Guardsmen, conducted an island seizure exercise on Tinian Sept. 20 during Valiant Shield 2014.
Marines, including Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, were inserted ashore on the Pacific island of Tinian via two Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF. Once on the beach, they encountered opposition provided by Guam’s Army National Guard, Company A, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry.
Days earlier, six Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF, began collecting intelligence on their objective in the jungles of Tinian, an old World War II-era compound. They then relayed their intelligence back to Guam where the infantrymen were waiting.
“The overall mission for this exercise vignette was to seize this (compound),” said Capt. Philipp Rigaut, commanding officer for Company A. “This is a great proof of concept for our ability to execute while having many things happen at the same time.”
The exercise is built around a series of scenarios, or vignettes, each of which becoming more complex than its predecessor.
As the opposing force, the approximately 25 National Guardsmen spent three days and two nights at the compound in order to learn the geography of the surrounding forest and to attempt to ascertain the area where the Marines would most likely attack.
During the recon, the senior enlisted personnel of the National Guard emphasized using noise discipline and their training in order to battle complacency.
“When we are training with other units, the bottom line we tell our soldiers is ‘be professional,’” said Staff Sgt. Clarence Elicio, squad leader with the Guam National Guard. “We tell them to keep an eye open for the tactics the other units use, then we come together afterward to pick and choose what worked for them that might not have worked for us, and vice versa.”
After hours of reconnaissance from both sides, the Marines intercepted the National Guard security and later arrived at the compound.
According to 1st Lt. Marcelino Figueroa, rifle platoon commander with Company A, his Marines definitely learned new things for future conflicts.
“Exercises like Valiant Shield keep help keep our proficiency high, and it’s always good working with the Guam National Guard,” said Figueroa. “We saw their tactics and how they do things
versus us. Now we’ll take those lessons and hopefully apply them to some of our future operations.”
Valiant Shield is a U.S.-only exercise integrating an estimated 18,000 Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps personnel, more than 200 aircraft and 19 surface ships, offering real-world joint operational experience to develop capabilities that provide a full range of options to defend U.S. interests and those of its allies and partners.