In early January Marines with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit hopped on small boats and helicopters to conduct small scale raids as the Marines prepare for a future deployment.

The MEU’s maritime response, working with local and federal law enforcement agencies in Hawaii, conducted multiple small-scale raids on ships and buildings, simulating looking for “sensitive material” and wanted personnel, according to a Marine Corps press release.

“This realistic urban training exercise has been coordinated with the state government, local land owners and law enforcement authorities,” the press release said. “The Honolulu Police Department and other law-enforcement agencies will participate in the training in order to remain proficient in their demanding skills in similar environments.”

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Urban training was a staple of the Marine Corps during its 20 years of fighting in the Middle East.

With its shifting focus to the Pacific and great powers, the Corps has deemphasized urban training in favor of distributed operations.

In 2020 the Corps canceled a dense urban warfare experiment to focus on developing the Marine littoral regiment and other concepts associated with a distributed maritime fight.

Despite the shift, fighting in certain urban environments still remains one of the “essential tasks” for the 31st MEU.

The raids were conducted by the MEU’s Force Reconnaissance Platoon as part of the unit’s maritime raid force.

“These events demonstrate the MRF’s capability of inserting assets such as helicopters or ships via air or surface, executing deep reconnaissance, and conducting limited action small-scale raids and combat operations,” Capt. Nicole Gallegos told Marine Corps Times in an email.

They took place “in vicinity of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay, Schofield Barracks, and the Ewa Beach training area,” she said.

Photos of the raid showed reconnaissance Marines riding on rubber raiding boats toward ships out at sea.

Once they arrived at the targeted ship, Marines would “conduct a bottom-up visit, board, search, and seizure mission to intercept sensitive equipment,” according to the press release.

Videos of the land raids showed the recon Marines on utility task vehicles driving off the back of helicopters toward the objective.

They would then clear a series of rooms, “in order to confirm or deny presence of material/personnel,” the caption read.

As part of the mission, the Marines simulated casualty care and evacuations.

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