Fast Deployment at Camp Pendleton
Experiences at Iwo Jima, from 1945 in World War II, inform special training at Camp Pendleton, California, where Marines develop protocols allowing them to go in and out of dangerous locations quickly. Iwo Jima’s treacherous beachhead provided the only reminder that today’s Marines need—because incoming troops struggled through volcanic ash and into the arms of hidden enemy soldiers, who were waiting for the right moment to strike. Although many Marines became heroes that day—resulting in the iconic image where soldiers raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi—the Corps did not forget that with better preparation, many lives could have been saved. Therefore, today the Corps utilizes an array of methods to get troops on land safely.
At Camp Pendleton, Marines focus on fast deployment into a variety of situations, with a focus on coordinating three-pronged attacks combining air, land, and water access. Reconnaissance “swimmers”—Marines trained to silently emerge onto a beach, rifles at the ready—lead the way. Landing Craft Air Cushions (“el-kack”)— amphibious assault ships—carry vehicles and personnel across both water and land, depositing fighters quickly and effectively. The Boeing V-22 Osprey, a fast, long-range, tiltrotor aircraft with both vertical and short takeoff and landing capabilities, allows for deft and flexible depositing and collection of vehicles—tethered on slings—or troops, who deploy or are pulled up via a daisy-chain, spy-rigging apparatus. We see Ospreys hover over the Pacific Ocean, lifting Marines in wet suits and flippers out of the water.
Marines must be ready, willing, and able to deploy to any location at any time—at a moment’s notice. That’s the point. Someone must go, and go “now.” At Miramar, they learn how to keep their packs at the ready, and be steeled to depart within a few hours. Often, they have no idea where they’re going when they climb into an airplane, so they must be trained to have everything they might need. As one Marine puts it, “It is literally a leap into the unknown.”
Another Marine adds, “It’s a different sort of courage, dangling there in the dark, not knowing what dangers are ahead. But what we do know is that we are part of something bigger, more important than just us.” Marines are ready to go anywhere, anytime.