MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A number of roads here were blocked off to traffic as darkness fell on the Marines running through buildings clearing them of insurgents.
The Marines faced possible small arms fire and improvised explosive device attacks, but they had one important asset on they’re side; close air support.
During an Urban Close Air Support-Training exercise here Oct. 26 and 27, the Marines of Companies A and B, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division got hands-on experience working with close air support from the ground during combat operations.
The training exercise geared toward situations the Marines will possibly face on a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Starting at one end of the base at 6 p.m. and working their way by convoy to the end of their training limits on the other side, the Marines of one company cleared section by section of buildings that are in normal use here daily.
When they arrived toward the end of the course they were met by familiar faces, the Marines of the other company, but disguised as insurgents.
“It was very important to make it as realistic as possible, because for the majority of the Marines in the battalion, they’ve already been to Iraq more than once,” explained Capt. William L. Lombardo, the assistant operations officer.
The main idea of the training, according to Lombardo, was to train the small unit leaders, such as the squad leaders, platoon sergeants and platoon commanders in the communication and coordination of their air assets that provide a huge advantage over the enemy.
“This training was very important, because the last time the battalion was over there we relied on air, and it was a huge advantage during engagements with the enemy,” said the New Providence, N.J., native.
The air asset during the training provided the Marines with an aerial reconnaissance of the area and also simulated aerial assault capabilities
“The Marines faced similar tactics used by insurgents mainly the hit and run tactic,” explained the Southwest Texas University graduate.
Toward the end of the exercise, which ended at 1 a.m., the Marines faced a “fight to death” with the “insurgents” where the Marines battled the aggressors into submission.
Overall, the Marines believed that the training was an important opportunity for them to work together with their air asset, and they all agreed that they had a fun time with this exercise.
“The Marines were learning at the platoon, company and even battalion level. For some of them this was new and for some it was a refresher. The Marines had a good time with this training,” Lombardo explained.