NEWS | Aug. 23, 2021

9th Engineer Support Battalion Screens, Assembles First Littoral Engineer Reconnaissance Team

By 1st Lt. Alejandro Arteaga 3rd Marine Logistics Group

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3d Marine Logistics Group, conducted a physical and academic screener August 18th, 2021, to evaluate and select the most qualified Marines to field the Littoral Engineer Reconnaissance Team, a new capability to support engineering and mobility-specific intelligence requirements.

By the end of the day-long selection process, 12 Marines were chosen to establish one Engineer Reconnaissance Squad comprising three four-man fire teams. To ensure a cross-section of necessary skills to conduct overt geospatial collection operations, the LERT consists of combat engineers, transmissions system operators, and a hospital corpsman, all led by a ground intelligence officer, forming a cross-functional team that 9th ESB can detach to provide crucial support to other units.

“Eventually we want to see the LERT turn into something similar to Radio Recon,” said 1st Lt. Brandon Cavil, battalion intelligence officer with 9th ESB. “If you look at how to win a fight over a near-peer adversary, aside from overwhelming firepower, it’s overwhelming intelligence. That is critical. In response to the Commandant’s planning guidance in manning, training, and equipping to fight a near-peer adversary, reconnaissance is an important element. Our LERT is going to fill that role here at 3d MLG and throughout III MEF.”

The LERT screener entailed four phases, culminating in a selection board. The first and second phases tested muscular endurance with a max effort pullup, pushup, and situp evaluation and a timed 250-meter swim in utilities. The third phase tested the Marines’ ability to maneuver under load to different objectives via a 6-mile timed ruck run.

“The LERT screener is all about being a warrior. It’s Marines putting themselves in a situation that makes them uncomfortable, putting out, not quitting, and leaving here a little more capable than when they woke up this morning,” said Lt. Col. Marcus Gillet, 9th ESB’s battalion commander.

The fourth phase, a written exam, tested the Marines’ basic knowledge in engineering, demolition, and provisional infantry knowledge to evaluate their aptitude to meet the demands of complex operations. After completion of the final event, battalion leadership held a selection board to tally the final scores and select the team. Of the 22 Marines and 1 sailor conducting the screener, only 12 were selected to form the LERT.

While 9th ESB conducted a trial run of the LERT concept in June 2021 during exercise Poseidon’s Watchtower alongside the “Seabees” of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, Gillet says this is only the beginning of an exciting new tool for 3d MLG.

“We’re only scratching the surface right now. The LERT will be capable of conducting mobility assessments and beach reconnaissance, establishing helicopter landing zones, assessing infrastructure, and other tasks that are the bread and butter of what the engineering community has done for years, but taken to the next level. If any element of the MAGTF requests this capability I will not say no,” said Gillett. “The LERT will inform the commander on the capabilities and limitations of what can be done, and what work is required to get Marines and equipment wherever you need to get them while overcoming the physical environment.”

3d MLG, based out of Okinawa, Japan, is a forward deployed combat unit that serves as III MEF’s comprehensive logistics and combat service support backbone for operations throughout the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility.