— and their ability to integrate combined arms, across
the information and physical space, creates surprises
and identifies weakness and enables their freedom of
action. We’ve got to be able to counter that and disrupt
that,” said Laing, the 3rd LAR Battalion commander at
“The Task Force Recon concept does exactly that.
We look at what are those capabilities currently, what
are these future capabilities that are being developed
and how do we synchronize that,” he said.
Critical to that is coordinating and synchroniz-
ing counter-recon forces with other ground units
doing reconnaissance, he said. In any security oper-
ations involving screening, guarding and covering,
“counter-reconnaissance is part of that. So it is not a
significant paradigm shift,” he said, but rather “a more
focused emphasis on that counter-reconnaissance.”
Among Task Force Recon’s goals is to help close
gaps in division and regimental security areas on the
battlefield by giving LAR more combat power for that
mission like EFSS than its organic 81mm mortars and
dominate that counter-reconnaissance fight.
“If Task Force Recon does their job right, we are
able to blind the enemy, seize the objective, deny him
the ability to see what’s coming his way,” Capt. Jorge
Colon, 3rd LAR’s Headquarters and Service “Huron”
Company commander, said in a division news video.
Among lessons highlighted: The need for better
interoperability with other MAGTF units outside of the
division “at the gunfighter level,” Laing said, including
attached and supporting elements. For example, light
armored vehicles can cover 400 miles on a tank of
gas but they would outrun Low Altitude Air Defense-
bearing Humvees “so there are limitations and
Marines had to sort through other challenges, like
how to fight and maneuver while doing intelligence
collection or using the mightier 120mm mortars — and
it’s live, desert training.
“We had to work through those nuances, painfully
at times,” Colon said. “You’ve got to fight through
Next up? LAR battalions will join in a virtual war-
game that is planned this spring with the division and
the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Laing said.
And 3rd LAR might tie in lessons in a joint training
event with the Army in September at the Joint Training
Center, at Fort Irwin, Calif.
During Steel Knight, Task Force Recon organized
into a single force with Marines from more than a dozen
units, including four infantry battalions and four infantry
and artillery regimental headquarters, combat engineers,
combat logisticians, reconnaissance Marines and 1st
Radio Battalion. About 2,000 Marines took to the field in
the desert, where a smaller division forward headquar-
ters led the forces that included three regimental combat
teams, all linked to the division’s main headquarters at
Camp Pendleton. With computer simulations, another
18,000 “virtual” Marines joined in the battle on both
sides, including division headquarters serving as Marine
Forces Reserves’ 23rd Marine Regiment.
Steel Knight included amphibious assaults at Camp
Pendleton and San Clemente Island involving 1st
Marine Regiment; a 412-mile-long range involving 3rd
Battalion, 5th Marines; about 28 helicopters and MV- 22
Osprey tiltrotor aircraft; and desert live-fire with 1st
Marines leading Task Force Inchon and mechanized
tanks in support.
After the California exercise, in the force-on-force
fight, Task Force Recon pitted one LAR battalion
against another LAR unit.
“They’re very similar fast-moving vehicles, both
reconnaissance trained and counter-reconnaissance
trained,” Lt. Col. Mike McFerron, a 1st Marine Division
operations officer, told Seapower.
In the desert, 3rd LAR led the force of various recon
elements and faced off against Camp Pendleton-based
1st LAR Battalion in a “live” opposing, force-on-force
fight, “actively hunting each other and conducting
counter-reconnaissance,” Colon said. His Marines’
goal was “to deny those elements from 1st LAR
Battalion to be able to influence the main effort.”
Marines with Task Force Recon, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance
Battalion, 1st Marine Division, drive a light armored vehicle during
Steel Knight 17 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 7. Task Force Recon is a combination
of different reconnaissance elements brought together in order to
strengthen regimental security areas.