Comfortable in Chaos: 2/6 Marines ready for urban operations

21 Oct 2014 | LCpl. Tyler A. Andersen 2nd Marine Division

Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division conducted live-fire, close–quarters, battle training with grenades at the MOC-3 range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 21.

Every training exercise helps the Marines maintain their readiness and participating in Military Operations on Urban Terrain exercises was nothing new to the unit. The battalion also regularly conducts live-fire training to remain proficient with their weapon systems. But the intensity of focus required to complete all those essential tasks with the addition of live grenades added a new element of strain to the training.

“When the grenade goes off, it gets your heart pumping,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan Whiteback, a team leader with Fox Company.

“It’s being able to be violent and aggressive, but also keep your cool,” continued Whiteback. “Even when using live rounds in a house, even when there are loud noises like a grenade, you’ve got to stay focused and maneuver through.”

The Marines spent hours preparing for their live-fire event, honing their teams to communicate from the point of entry into the building and on through rooms filled with enemy targets.

“If we went into combat tomorrow, these are going to be the Marines I go with,” said Lance Cpl. Jake Hill, a squad leader with the unit. “Every Marine here is a leader of some kind. You have your individual leaders such as your team leader and squad leader, but everybody has to be able to make their own decisions inside these rooms ... every individual Marine’s actions count.”

The shock of the explosives and the clatter of rifle fire in a confined space adds to chaos in a real-world environment, noted Hill. Operating through that chaos required a strong level of cohesion between the unit members.

Fox Company prepared well ahead of time to apply what Hill called “violence of action” through hours of training scenarios, which they increased in realism until the day of the live exercise at the MOC-3 range.

“In a real world scenario, this is exactly what we could be doing,” said Hill. “These guys are smart, and know a lot ... but that camaraderie and working together is the big factor.”

Building that cohesion requires the Marines to be comfortable in the chaos and to understand the teammates supporting them, added Hill.

The Marines formed up in groups, creating a tight assault force as they prepared to enter the facility. The chest pounding explosions of the grenades preceded their push into the building, where the teams directed their fields of fire to cover the open spaces inside before maneuvering from room to room.

“My seniors have drilled knowledge into my head,” said Hill, who led his own team through the smoke and noise of the range. “Marines may not be in open field environments ... so this kind of training is exactly what we need, with everything from the simple twist-and-pull pin of a grenade to make it activate and the [confined] room to communications with individual Marines.”

The company spent several hours running teams through the compound with explosions and rifle fire breaking the momentary silences before each group began their assault. After each attack, the Marines gathered to dissect their performance and build upon the experience.

“We have to be ready for anything,” said Whiteback, explosions echoing from the nearby training complex. “Every chance we have to come out here is good for the Marines.”