MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
A combination of hand signals and radio chatter aided communication over the noise of MV-22 Osprey engines as four Marines prepared to slide down a rope connected to the tail of the helicopter.
Marines from Special Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, participated in fast rope operations to complete their two-week helicopter rope suspension training master course aboard Marines Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 7, 2010.
To most people, climbing onto a rope while hovering 150 feet above the ground might seem a little hazardous, but for the Marines trying to obtain their HRST master certification, it is necessary training.
“Today’s evolution was one of the three major areas of HRST,” said Capt. Robert A. Long, the officer-in-charge of Expeditionary Operations Branch, SOTG. “Rappel, fast rope and spy rigging combined make up the complete HRST master course. Today, we were fast roping from the MV-22.”
By successfully and safely performing the tasks given during the fast rope training, the future HRST masters proved they retained the knowledge taught throughout the previous two weeks of training in the form of classes and practical application at the rappelling tower.
“We always start off with basics,” said Gunnery Sgt. Edward L. Ewing, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Expeditionary Operations Branch, SOTG. “[The Marines] get quick classes and then demonstrate what they’ve learned in the classes on the tower before they go on the bird.”
Knowledge, preliminary training and proactive precautions are important factors in this type of training. However, when the Marines reach the final stage of the training, there are a few safety precautions.
“Once the Marines are on the fast rope, their safety is their grip,” said Long. “There is a safety insert officer in the landing zone who is a HRST master and a SNCO or an officer. The safety insert officer will check and make sure the landing zone is clear, and also checks to make sure the HRST master in the MV-22 gives him the appropriate signal before giving the final [sign] for the ropers to dispatch.”
HRST can play a very valuable role in combat by providing an expedient insertion and extraction method in combat, but there are only a handful of units that are allowed to have HRST masters.
“It’s very important that we continue to do [the training],” said Ewing. “Obviously Marines need more than one way [to deploy] themselves into any type of situation. This is just one of the tools we have in our belt to actually get Marines to the fight.”