Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Mikal MacDonald, a squad automatic weapon gunner with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, posts security at a vehicle checkpoint at the military operations in urban terrain facility. MOUT was used as part of a week-long battalion field exercise in preparation for the battalion’s deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Photo by Lance Cpl. David A. Weikle

MOUT prepares Marines for worst case scenario

20 Nov 2008 | Lance Cpl. David A. Weikle 2nd Marine Division

Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, conducted a week-long battalion field exercise at the military operations in urban terrain facility here.  The training included cordon and searches, vehicle checkpoints and interactions with the Iraqi role-players who were the notional city’s inhabitants.

During the snap VCP portion, the men patrolled through parts of the city before receiving intelligence of a possible attack.

“Be on the look out (BOLO) for a small, red pickup truck,” Cpl. Jason Gillispie said to his squad after receiving a notional radio transmission detailing the vehicle.

As the men ran toward the target building, they maintained proper dispersion and scanned the area for anything suspicious.  Secure positions were established at the avenues of approach and the men began searching pedestrians and vehicles for weapons, improvised explosive devices and any other suspicious materials.

A few of the Marines had been taught basic Arabic language skills and put their training to the test.

“We need to search your vehicle,” the Marines told each man in Arabic and English.  “We are doing this to keep your neighborhood safe.”

Several vehicles passed through without incident before a man tried to pass through the VCP on his way to work.  After a quick and thorough search the man prepared to leave when the BOLO vehicle was spotted, heading straight for the Marines.  As the truck continued to speed toward the checkpoint the men dropped into carefully practiced reaction drills.

“Get out of here!” the men yelled at the civilian, clearing the way for him to pass through.  As the truck continued its approach, the Marines opened fire.

The simulated vehicle borne IED detonated and was followed by a drive-by shooting.  Following the attack the Marines assessed their casualties and reinforced the checkpoint.  Casualty evacuation began immediately.

Lance Cpl. Andrew Czuba, a mortarman with the battalion acting as an observer for the exercise, spoke about how the course was tailored to each squad.

“When the call goes out for a BOLO, the Marines set up a snap VCP to stop the attack,” said Czuba, a Fort Worth, Texas, native.  “We send some pedestrians and vehicles through to judge the Marines’ security stance before deciding when to attack.  If they don’t search a vehicle, we make sure another one comes through with an IED.  It helps to maintain a combat mindset.”

The training the men received at MOUT will be used during 1st Bn., 8th Marines upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.