CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The Marine Corps’ return to its amphibious roots may be a change for some Marines who have been supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not for the Marines of Landing Support Company. They have conducted and supervised landing support operations throughout the globe, supporting the logistical requirements of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
Marines with LS Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, conducted ship-to-shore operations during Exercise Steel Knight 2014 aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 11, 2013. The landing support specialists reinforced the amphibious movement of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, during the amphibious assault portion of the exercise.
Steel Knight is an annual exercise designed to prepare the 1st Marine Division for deployment with the Marine Air-Ground Task Force as the Ground Combat Element with the support of 1st MLG and 3rd Marine Air Wing. Combined, the MAGTF is able to deploy and respond in a timely manner to any situation across the globe.
Landing Support Marines coordinate the movement at the beach, including the landing craft, vehicles, equipment, supplies and personnel. During this operation, they were responsible for unloading Light Armored Vehicles from Landing Craft Air Cushions.
“This is just the amphibious assault portion of Steel Knight. We control the operation on this end. We coordinate the ship-to-shore movement,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Courson, platoon sergeant, LS Company. “We run the beaches that the landing craft land is at, coordinate vehicle offload and movement and build the dumpsite for rations, ammo or medical supplies,” added Courson, a native of Macon, Ga.
Red Beach is one of four locations the exercise will take place. More than 25,000 Marines and sailors trained at Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma during the week-long exercise.
Apart from supporting 1st Marine Division, the Marines with LS Company gained hands-on experience at what they do best. Full-scale beach operations require the joint efforts of multiple units, making this exercise a valuable training opportunity for LS Company. The training proved to be of significance for many of the Marines supporting, as it was their first ship-to-shore movement.
“This was my first operation,” said Pfc. Nicholas J. Trilk, landing support specialist, LS Company, CLR-17, 1st MLG. “It was a good experience; thanks to the [noncommissioned officers] I had with me that guided me through the process. I feel I have a good handle on how the operation works.”
When the movement began, Trilk and his team arrived on the beach by a Landing Craft Utility and immediately set up beach panels to guide landing craft and tactical vehicles for staging. Trilk, with the guidance of his NCOs, accounted for vehicles and personnel arriving on the beach.
“I enjoyed it,” said Trilk, a native of Rockville, Ill. “It was a good experience. I’ve never seen an LCAC before, and it was definitely enjoyable to work with them and physically do the operation for the first time.”