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Embedded with the 1st Marine Division | The future of warfare is focusing on defense from the sea

A CBS 8 exclusive: Marines from the 1st Marine Division and 3rd Marine Air Wing join forces in a new maritime exercise involving shooting down unmanned aircraft.

CAMP PENDLETON SOUTH, Calif. — The future of warfare focuses on defense from the sea to the skies.

In an exclusive look, CBS 8’S Abbie Black boarded a boat with the 1st Marine Division to give the public an inside view of rare training that involves low-altitude air defense against drones.

About two miles off the shore between Camp Pendleton and San Clemente, the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Unit (LAR) from the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion (LAAD) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar are joining forces in a new way of training in the U.S. Marine Corp.

“When you put them together, you get a capability that neither has by itself and adds synergy to the force,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Winn.

The commanding officer over the 1st LAR says the training exercise aligns them with the US Marine Force Design 2030, which aims to reshape combat power to prepare for naval war.

“Our goal was to defeat low altitude unmanned aircraft, with the stinger missile system employed from the water,” said Winn.

Both units are on a rubberized inflatable boat known as a R.I.B. The LAR specializes in boats, and the LAAD focuses on air defense.

Using stinger missiles loaded with inert rounds, the target is a puma, an unmanned aircraft system.

“The Marine Corps evolves its focus from 20 years in the desert to being a credible partner with the naval force,” said Winn.

While Winn's unit would not be responsible for shooting down a drone, the training happened when the US military recently shot down a suspicious balloon and three UFOs over North America. 

Winn says this training is critical to be equipped against new and emerging threats.

“If you're going to fight somebody that has the same things you do, you need to be relevant on the water in the air, both offensively and defensively,” said Winn.

By pairing two forces that don't often work together, they learn to outmaneuver enemies from the water.

“They understand the threat that we face as a nation, and really, it's incredible what they do, and you ask them to put together something that is novel, that is not done anywhere else. They perform brilliantly,” said Winn.

Several Marines participated in the exercise that, includes boat drivers, radio operators, pilots for unmanned aircraft, Marines that shoot guided missiles, truck drivers, boat captains, boat navigators, and engineers. Royal Marines were also on-board visiting U.S. Marines.

WATCH RELATED: U.S. Navy Training | On the Homefront (Feb. 2023).


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