STARBULLETIN.COM VIDEO SPECIAL
beach landing skills
RIMPAC exercises giveBy Dean Sensui
Kaneohe Marines a chance to
practice their craft
The sound of waves rushing onto the beach at Waimanalo was broken by the whine of diesel engines this morning as more than 100 troops from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines came ashore.
The early morning raid was part of an exercise in RIMPAC 2000, a multinational series of exercises taking place this month in Hawaii.
Capt. David Bradney of the 3rd Marines explained that beach landings are an important part of America's arsenal.
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"Almost 80 percent of the population of the world is within 200 miles of the coastline.
"And that means that if we have an enemy, that they're probably--the major ports, the major cities--are on those littorals.
"And you just can't put a Tomahawk -- just can't put air power--and actually think you're going to control that area. You have to bring Marines ashore or somebody ashore to control that."
The United States, with its vast array of specialized ships and vehicles is the only country in the world that still maintains an amphibious force.
Said Bradney, "Most of the world decided that an amphibious landing with today's armament is not possible, that everybody would be pushed back into the beach.
"But the Marine Corps said, 'No, it just wasn't done properly. If it was done properly, and you had the right landing craft, you could actually do it.'"
Today's exercise actually took place before sunrise. With the advent of night vision technologies, military planners now favor the night environment for many of their operations.
"To move through the cover of darkness is always a good thing.
"When you look out at a beach at night, it's all black. There's waves hitting the shore, so you can't hear an Amtrack as well as you might think you are. They are loud, but in the disguise of the surf and things like that, it's hard to tell exactly where that sound is coming from. 'Is it the surf? Is it the Amtrack? I'm not sure.'
"Before you know it, they're a hundred meters away from you and by then it's too late.
"But yes, always under the cover of darkness, which makes for early mornings, but that's just the way it is."
While satellite guided missiles and and precision bombing have provided tremendoius leaps in strategic warfare, the footsoldier will continue to play a vital role on the modern battlefield.
This is Dean Sensui reporting for Starbulletin.com.