TARAWA TERRACE I, N.C. -- Marines and sailors from 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment took advantage of renovations to a Camp Lejeune base housing complex to practice breaching and urban combat techniques June 6 to 9.
Several of the aging structures in Tarawa Terrace I are being demolished to make way for new construction. Marines from 2nd CEB recognized an opportunity for some unique and realistic training, and requested permission from base officials to perform the proposed training.
“One of my platoon commanders went to the base after we put a package together, explaining what kind of training we were going to do and the safety precautions,” said Gunnery Sgt. Steven W. Jones, company gunnery sergeant, C Company, 2nd CEB.
The battalion received the go-ahead less than a month later, he said.
After the approval came down, said Jones, 2nd CEB invited 20 Marines from 2/6 to work in tandem with the engineers in anticipation of their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We trained the junior Marines we have here on entry and [urban combat] techniques and we had the noncommissioned officers teach the CEB Marines [Basic Urban Survival Techniques],” said Sgt. German Alicea, a Miami Beach, Fla., native and platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon, G Company, 2/6.
This unconventional training area served as the ideal supplement to training at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility, said Lance Cpl. Jarod T. Gray, a Cleveland native and squad leader with 1st Platoon, C Company, 2nd CEB.
“I’d say this is the best training we’ve had out of the six-month work-ups. We can go in the houses and go full-speed,” said Gray.
While the simulated buildings of the MOUT facility provide opportunities for high-quality training, Gray said, they don’t have the added realism operating in actual houses provides.
“In MOUT facility you don’t have to create squad [standard operating procedures] for dealing with broken glass, and what happens if someone gets injured, but here it’s a factor,” he said.
While the engineers were limited to hooligan tools, a tool designed for breaching operations, and sledgehammers in lieu of breaching rounds and explosives due to the residential area surrounding the demolition area, said Gray, the restrictions actually enhanced the training.
“We look at it this way: [Explosives] and shotgun breaching rounds make our job
easier. Here we’re training and doing it the hard way. But when we deploy and we’ve
got tools to make it easier, that’s good to go. But if you train like it’s going to be easy, you’re going to be in trouble” said Gray.
Private first class Brandon J. Robinson, an Akron, Ohio, native and combat engineer with 2nd CEB said the training package at Tarawa Terrace One has boosted his confidence.
“It’s very hands-on, very fast-paced and real,” said Robinson. “At first I was a little scared of going to Iraq. I wasn’t sure what to do. But with this training, I’m very confident with the team that I have. I know my place in the group I’m with.”