MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
U.S. Marines with Light Armored Reconnaissance Marine Course 2-20, Light Armored Reconnaissance Training Company, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry - West, conducted light armored vehicle swim operations at the Del Mar boat basin on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Feb. 11.
One of the culminating events and final evaluations the Marines must complete before graduating the 6 week long LAR Marine Course is LAV swim operations. The students are assessed individually on maneuvering the vehicle while in water.
“The biggest thing the Marines are going to get out of this course is how to drive the LAV, familiarization and comfortability with the different types of terrain that the vehicle can handle, and how to maintain the vehicles,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Jozef Walters, a combat instructor with LARTC.
The mission of LARTC is to train entry-level light armored reconnaissance crewmen in the tactical employment of the LAV. Throughout the course the students have been taught in classrooms as well as participating in practical applications.
“The LAVs are amphibious in nature just like the Marine Corps,” said Staff Sgt. Guillermo Torrescruz, a combat instructor with LARTC. “The LAV can be maneuvered in many amphibious type scenarios such as river crossings.”
The students and the instructors prepare the vehicle to operate in the water together by conducting pre-combat checks and inspections. Students test their knowledge on the employment of the vehicle as well as the appropriate maintenance procedures prior to the evaluation.
“We’re swimming the LAVs so the entry-level students can familiarize themselves with how to drive the vehicle in water and the capabilities of it,” Torrescruz said.
Students begin the training by applying grease to the vehicles’ entrance and exit points in order to create a watertight seal. Then the instructors do a float test. This allows the instructors to ensure that the vehicle is ready and safe for the students to operate in the water.
“For the float test, we attach the floating vehicle to an anchored vehicle ashore, so when the vehicle goes in for the float test if there is an emergency the vehicle can be pulled back to safety,” Torrescruz said.
After the float test, the students are able to be evaluated on their ability to operate the LAV in the boat basin with minimal assistance. The Marines take the LAV in a loop around the boat basin to familiarize themselves with operating a vehicle in the water.
“One of the big reasons we still use the LAVs is its ability to maneuver across all types of terrain,” said Walters. “Being able to take the vehicle into rivers and lakes is a valuable asset to us in LAR, as maneuver warfare is essentially our bread and butter.”
Upon completion of the course, students will possess the technical skills required of a LAR Marine, and will receive the military occupational specialty of 0313 Light Armored Reconnaissance Marine.
“The biggest thing that’s going to make these graduates successful when they get to the fleet is how well they know their job,” said Walters. “Nobody is expecting a new Marine to get to the fleet with a mastery level knowledge of their job, but the more they can take with them from here, the more it's going to reflect on how hard they worked here.”
Throughout the course, the instructors are with the students constantly, teaching and molding the new Marines into fully trained LAR Marines ready for the fleet.
“It’s a very rewarding feeling to be able to see these new Marines learning a new concept, and seeing them employ what we’ve taught them,” Walters said.