US Marines island hopping and setting up long-range fires in the Pacific theater — a clear message that the Pentagon means business in the region.
In an exercise sure to tweak Beijing in a bad way, US Marines and Sailors with 3rd Marine Division and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, got a look at what the Corps’ future missions could look like during a bold naval exercise in the East China Sea, Military.com reported.
The grunts “quickly seized control of the island, establishing defensive positions,” according to a news release.
The Marines then coordinated with Seventh Fleet sailors, who had identified a target they couldn’t engage.
After passing info along to the Marines ashore, an Air Force MC-130J Super Hercules landed on an expeditionary airfield in the middle of the night with a High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, Military.com reported.
“The HIMARS team fired a notional shot, destroying the target, and quickly loaded back into the MC-130J, taking off minutes after landing on the island,” the release states.
The Marines then loaded into CH-53E Super Stallions, it adds, and “were on the move again to prepare for follow-on missions.”
The Marine Corps is undergoing a series of force-wide changes as it refocuses on naval-based missions amid rising tensions with China.
“As a force that is highly trained, disciplined and lethal, we are out here exercising our part in distributed operations,” said Lt. Col. Gabriel Diana, the commanding officer of 1st Bn., 2nd Marines and a leader with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, the release states.
“Today, our mission is to conduct an air assault to secure an airfield on a nearby island to facilitate follow-on operations including a HIMARS rapid infiltration.
“Our ability to rapidly seize and operate from critical maritime terrain will support naval operations to ensure we are ready to fulfill our treaty obligations to Japan and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
In the cover of darkness, a HIMARS launcher with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment flew into the recently secured airfield on an Air Force MC-130J.
Upon landing, Marines swiftly positioned the HIMARS launcher to simulate a long-range, precision firing mission with targeting information received and coordinated while aboard the aircraft in flight, the release states.
Minutes later, the HIMARS was back aboard the aircraft to exfiltrate and move to its next firing point at a different location.“HIMARS provides a highly mobile and accurate ground-based fires capability with significant range.”
“HIMARS provides a highly mobile and accurate ground-based fires capability with significant range,” said Capt. Ralph Biddle, a battery commander with 3rd Bn., 12th Marines whose leatherneck unit has mastered HIMARS Rapid Infiltration missions.
“Executing HIRAINs enables us to extend the range of our rockets to support naval and joint operations across a distributed environment.”
Meanwhile, the infantry Marines continued to maintain security across the island to preserve the EAB for supporting fleet operations at sea, the release states.
“My Marines have prepared for these types of missions through a significant amount of training before coming out to Japan on the Unit Deployment Program,” said Sgt. Cal Cushinghurley, a squad leader with 1st Bn., 2nd Marines.
“I knew they would perform well because their training has made them confident and ready for combat, and this mission is another good opportunity to prove themselves.”
Receiving an order to displace, CH-53E Super Stallions arrived and the Marines were on the move again to prepare for follow-on missions, the release states.
“This operation demonstrated how we can be both survivable and extremely lethal through distributed operations in the littorals,” said Col. Jason Perry, assistant division commander for 3rd Marine Division.
“Leveraging our partnerships and interoperability with joint and allied forces, we can deter and defeat any adversary that threatens peace and security in the region.”
In a call with reporters when the exercise wrapped up, Col. Robert Brodie, III Marine Expeditionary Force’s operations officer, called Noble Fury “a highly successful operation.”
“This is III MEF’s ability to establish expeditionary fires and forward arming and refueling points throughout the Indo-Pacific at any time, in any place of our calling,” Brodie said.