Dedicated role-players help “Deadwalkers” train for deployment

30 Jan 2008 | Lance Cpl. Casey Jones

Marines with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, trained with Iraqi police role-players at a Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility here, Jan. 30.

 The Marines acted out scenarios they may encounter while deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The warriors spent hours training with the role-players conducting vehicle check points, searching individuals and practicing their knowledge of the Arabic language.

 “We learned how to deal with somebody who has a different language and customs,” said Lance Cpl. Johnathon Brewer, a rifleman with Headquarters Platoon. “It also personally taught me to be more patient with people who do not understand (our language).”

 The Marines described the language barrier as the toughest part of training with the role-players. However, they said the exercise will make training the real Iraqi police much easier.

 “It’s very hard,” Brewer said. “But I’ve been on a few trips and was able to learn Spanish so I’m a little more used to (different languages), but some of the other Marines aren’t. It’s going to help those Marines a lot by training here instead of just jumping right into it in Iraq.”

 Due to the recent positive changes in Iraq, Marines are switching from combat operations to more of a humanitarian role to aid in the transition of provincial Iraqi control. The Marines in the battalion said they are used to adapting and overcoming to complete their mission.

 “The Marines are accepting (changes) and they understand that’s what they need to do so we can get out of there and help somebody else that may need help,” Brewer said.

 The recently reactivated battalion’s upcoming deployment will be its first since the Vietnam War, where the battalion received its macabre nickname “The Walking Dead.” The battalion’s leaders have stressed the fundamentals and constant training to ensure the Marines are prepared for combat.

 “They’re taking in the training pretty well. With this being our first full- scale deployment as a battalion, I think they’ll do well,” said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Grooms, a platoon sergeant with Weapons Company.

 The veterans with the battalion said they are excited about seeing the better trained and equipped Iraqi police.

 “There will be a big change,” Grooms said. “Obviously, there will be more trust between both (the Marines and IPs) and we should be able to bridge the communication gap.”