Sunday, December 28, 2014

Force Recon Part 3


Last week, I listed the seven training packages candidates for Force Recon need to master.  Today, we’re going to learn a bit more about each of these packages.

The long-range communications training includes satellite communication (SAT/COM), Morse code, and multiband radios.  (For a woman who is still struggling to learn to use her i-phone, this is remarkable.)

In amphibious training, the warriors learn how to conduct hydrographic surveys and how to launch from submarines and other vessels.  In advanced dive course, they fine tune infiltration and extraction techniques.

Advanced parachuting demands that the candidates learn the techniques of HAHO (high altitude, high opening) into drop zones from 25,000 feet.

Foreign weapons training teaches the men to identify and fire weapons from other countries while arms training teaches how to call for close air support.

Finally, the field exercise demands that the candidate combine everything they’ve learned, including amphibious infiltrations and extractions, hydrographic surveys, mountain and desert patrols at bases around the United States, a parachute jump. 

After they have completed all of these exercises, they are assigned to bases around the world for another six months, where the focus is on direct action missions, including hostage rescues, takedowns of ships and oil platforms, and helicopter deployments.

Are you bursting with pride, as I am, in these courageous warriors who put everything on the line to protect the United States of America and our way of life?  I hope so.

May God bless you and the United States of America,


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Force Recon Part 2


Selection exams for Force Recon are held once a month.  Only three or four of the 15 to 20 candidates are actually selected to train.  Even after reaching this goal, many fail to complete the course because they are injured. 

Those who make the cut go on to the Force Reconnaissance Individual Training phase for six months.  There, they learn basic and advanced skills.  In addition, they learn infantry tactics, such as patrolling techniques and then must complete the Army’s airborne course:  the Combatant Driving School.  There, they learn open and closed-circuit breathing systems, and attend SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) School.

Candidates attend an eight week version of the US Army Ranger course at Force Recon’s advanced training school.  They undergo intense instruction in winter survival and rock climbing.  Pathfinder School and training in free-fall parachuting, shooting, and basic medical skills follow. 

As if this wasn’t enough, the candidates spend six months in Unit Training Phase, which includes seven packages:   long range communications, amphibious training,  arms training, foreign weapons training, advanced dive course, advanced parachuting, and a field exercise, where they combine everything they have learned.

Drop in next week for a more detailed view of these packages.

May God bless you and the United States of America,


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Force Recon


Marine Force Reconnaissance (Force Recon) has been around since World War II.  A friendly rivalry ensued between Force Recon and the SEALs, both of whom believed that they were the better-trained warriors.

Force Recon misses out on some of the more high profile missions that the SEALs, Rangers, and Green Berets are assigned.  I didn’t understand why until I learned that the US Marine Corps is not a member of the US Special Operations Command, which includes those vaulted teams mentioned above.

However, Force Recon warriors are trained to do most of what the other special operations teams can do … and some things that they cannot.   Like the SEALs, Force Recon hopefuls must undergo intense training.

First, they need to have three to five years of superior performance in the Corps and must hold the rank of corporal.  Most trainees wash out in trying to accomplish the first hurdle.  They must pass a physical screening test, which is directly followed by a PT test.  This test includes a timed three-mile run, pullups, sit-up, and completing  an obstacle course.  Twice. 

Then they move on to the swimming pool, where, wearing their uniforms, including boots, they jump in and swim 500 yards in 17 minutes. After this, they must tread water for one minute carrying their M16s.  They then hoist on 50 pound rusksacks (like giant backpacks) and go on a 2 ½ hour march. 

A written exam to test their professional competence follows, and, finally, if they make it this far, they are interviewed by Force Recon veterans who have the final say in determining whether or not the candidate has the right stuff to become part of Marine Force Reconnaissance.

May God bless you and the United States of America,


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pearl Harbor


Today, we’re going to travel back in time, more than seventy years ago.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was intended as a preventive action to keep the US Pacific Fleet from interfering with Japan’s military actions in Southeast Asia. Simultaneous attacks by the Japanese were also carried out on the US held Philippines and on Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
At 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time, Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers.  Eight US Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk.  All but one, the Arizona, were later raised, and six of the eight were returned to service to be deployed in the battle. 
More than two thousand Americans were killed that morning, with nearly two thousand more wounded.
Ironically,  the attack, designed to intimidate and to force the United States from entering World War II, had the opposite effect.  On December 8, 1941, just one day following the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and Germany.  Up until that time, support for the War had been lukewarm, and, in fact, support for “non-intervention” had been strong. 
No longer.  The American people were beyond angry; they were incensed.   Japanese Admiral Yamamoto put it, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
May God bless you and the United States of America,