Marines, Army Mount Assault in N.C. Exercise

May 05, 1987|United Press International

ONSLOW BEACH, N.C. — About 3,000 Marines stormed the beach at Camp Lejeune and 1,800 Army paratroopers were dropped inland Monday as the first phase of military exercise Solid Shield.

The amphibious assault was observed by a pool of a dozen news media representatives who were called out in secrecy Sunday as a test of whether coverage of actual military operations would compromise the security of the forces. It marked the sixth time such a pool was marshaled.

The pool rode ashore in a landing craft loaded with trucks and other heavy vehicles in the fourth wave of the assault.

Delayed by Fog

The operation, which involved Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel, was originally scheduled at about dawn but was delayed for three hours because of the fog. However, military officials said the operation was successful.

"It's almost a textbook operation so far," said Lt. Col. Jan Huly of the 8th Marines. No vehicles or aircraft were lost and there were no casualties, except for the imaginary kind, for which no estimate was yet available, he said.

The beach attack was preceded by fake bombing and strafing by jets and helicopters, and smoke was billowing as the Navy boats approached. The first wave was amphibious vehicles that quickly spread across the beach and set up positions.

Although the amphibious assault took the beach without difficulty and the paratroopers had secured their positions, the "enemy" was giving strong resistance.

Enemy positions were apparently fortified inland from the intercoastal waterway, over which the attacking Marines had constructed two pontoon bridges.

Huly said that stiff opposition was expected through the night Monday.

Although an annual exercise, this year's involved more than 40,000 servicemen of all four military branches--Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force--and the Coast Guard--and was the most complex one in the exercise's 24-year history.

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