MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A Marine patrol moved down a crowded street, eyes alert and weapons ready. They spread out along each side of the road scanning the area while checking for threats. As they approached an intersection, the point man called out, “danger area ahead.”
Each man pauses at the corner and provides security so the patrol could move across the danger area. When they were halfway across, a vehicle approached their formation. The squad leader raised his fist in the sky and shouted for the vehicle to stop. It pulled to a stop and the patrol moved safely through the area.
This is a common sight on the streets of Iraq that the Marines simulated in the base industrial area here. For Cpl. Dwight Rodriguez, a squad leader with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, the streets were similar enough to provide a good training environment. Dealing with cars and people will be an integral part of the patrols Rodriguez and his squad will conduct during their upcoming deployment to Iraq.
“It gave the new guys a better mental picture of walking in the street and having to deal with people, cars, and working with the environment,” said Rodriguez, a 21-year-old Atlantic City, N.J., native. “It’s a 360 degree fight, there’s no fatal front, the danger is all around.”
Every Marine receives an escalation of force and rules of engagement class prior to deployment, but the class must be applied to real world scenarios. For some, it was be a drastic change.
“It was different,” said Pfc. Sawyer R. Regnier, a 20-year-old Buford, Ga., native. “The (people in the) vehicles didn’t know what was going on. I’m sure it’s the same over there. Once the people saw what was going on they stopped when we told them to.”
As Marines and civilians went about their daily routine here, they stood a good chance of running into one of the patrols that dotted the industrial area.
“We stopped them all from going through our patrols until we heard from higher headquarters that we weren’t allowed to,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel C. Barnes, a 21-year-old from Gilette, Pa.
Rodriguez made sure his Marines got the most out of the training despite the restrictions they contended with. However, he saw room for change.
“One of the things we could have done different was to close off the industrial area and allow us to control the traffic coming in and out,” said Rodriguez.
Not having observation posts in key buildings was also a challenge to the event.
“One of the biggest things we did in Iraq was set up OP’s,” he added. “We couldn’t do it here because a lot of the buildings were closed.”
The training provided valuable experiences to the junior Marines who are new to the unit.
“Right now I feel pretty well prepared, but there are always things you can work on,” Regnier said. “I know all about patrolling from learning about it, but the more you do it, the more you become comfortable with it.”