Home Americas US Marines test HIMARS rapid infiltration on Palau island for first time

US Marines test HIMARS rapid infiltration on Palau island for first time

HIMARS on Palau
A HIMARS launches an M28A1 reduced range practice rocket in support of exercise Valiant Shield 2022 on Angaur, Palau, June 8, 2022. Photo: US Marine Corps

US Marines taking part in exercise Valiant Shield carried out a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System rapid infiltration maneuver in the Republic of Palau on June 8.

This is the first time the Marine Corps employed a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, on the Island of Angaur.

Marines from 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, were able to perform HIMARS rapid infiltration, or HI-RAIN, because of improvements made to the Angaur Airstrip during Task Force Koa Moana, an earlier USMC engagement with the Republic of Palau in 2020.

I Marine Expeditionary Force, or I MEF, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., provided command and control for the HI-RAIN from a forward location on Guam. The exercise, which focuses on the integration of joint training in a multi-domain environment, affords I MEF the opportunity to rapidly deploy and fully integrate lethal and non-lethal capabilities able to support naval maneuver.

The HI-RAIN maneuver was carried out as part of the Valiant Shield maneuver, which is taking place in Guam between June 6 and 17, on Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau and at sea around the Mariana Island Range Complex. HI-RAIN preceded a Patriot missile defense system test set to take place in the Republic of Palau this week.

“HI-RAIN is the culmination of the targeting process in which, the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is selected to engage a target,” said Capt. Andrew Richards, Quebec Battery Commander, 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. “This process is based on a multitude of interoperable systems involving intelligence, communications and command and control.”

The Marine Corps can also employ HI-RAIN in support of expeditionary advanced base operations, or EABO, by the insertion of precision fires assets into austere environments with minimal logistical footprint.

“The ability to do a HI-RAIN on expeditionary airfields, such as Angaur, means there is a variety of terrain that we can posture fires assets across the Indo-Pacific,” said Richards.

Exercises like Valiant Shield allow forces across the Indo-Pacific the opportunity to integrate Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Space Force, and Special Operations to train in precise, lethal, and overwhelming multi-axis, multi-domain effects that demonstrate the strength and versatility of the Joint Force.

The Marine Corps exercised the use of the Joint Force by integrating with the 133rd Operational Support Squadron, based out of St Paul, Minn., and flew from Andersen Air Force Base to the island state south of Peleliu.

“The use of Air National Guard air assets to insert HIMARS on the island required detailed planning and coordination between Marine Corps and Air Force personnel,” said Richards. “This was the first time that squadron conducted a mission like this, which ultimately increased the experience and availability to conduct HI-RAIN in the future.”

Upon completion of Valiant Shield, Marines from I MEF will also participate in Task Force Koa Moana increasing the MEF’s ability to rapidly respond to crises and contingencies across the spectrum of operations from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to armed conflict.