CAMP RIPPER, Iraq --
“First to fight” is a phrase that often comes to mind when referring to the Marine Corps. Not only is being the first to engage the enemy very important, but reacting quickly to a call for assistance or help is imperative.
Marines from Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, conducted quick reaction training March 11, 2009, in preparation to take on responsibilities as Multi National Force-West’s Quick Reaction Force. Although this job calls for these Marines to operate outside of their military occupation specialty, the training they have completed has helped prepare them for their upcoming task.
“They have really adapted to the mission; it’s different from anything they’ve done throughout their current deployment but they’re doing a good job,” said 1st Lt. James Smith, current QRF Platoon Commander, Company D, 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion. “We’ve been teaching them to transition out of their normal tank mindset into a more infantry-based thinking.”
The last training exercise the QRF Marines participated in was a drill which provided them the opportunity to practice their reaction time from start to finish. As the exercise started, combat-equipped Marines loaded themselves onto a CH-53E helicopter. They unloaded in a target area and transitioned into ground movements. During ground movements, Marines cleared the area and located a safe landing zone for the helicopter. Once Marines completed ground movements, the helicopter was guided back to their position. The QRF Marines boarded the helicopter and returned to their starting point.
“Training like this is very important,” said 1st Lt. Aaron Nord, the incoming platoon commander for the QRF, and 1st platoon commander for Company B , 1st Tank Battalion. “Rehearsals make you fluent and confident in the missions you’re asked to carry out. It also ensures that Marines understand what they’re doing,” said Nord. “We realize the importance of the mission and we’re ready to take over.” Getting a good grasp on training is important considering the QRF will be expected to respond to units located all throughout Multi National Force - West.
The new Quick Reaction Force Platoon Sergeant, Gunnery Sgt. Jason Villasana says his Marines are well-trained and have adjusted very well to the changes in their job description. “I’m pleased with their progress. We received this assignment unexpectedly, but the Marines have worked hard and rolled with the punches that have been thrown at them. They know that they are ground pounders now not just tankers.”
The March 11 training is the last exercise the Marines conducted before taking over the next day. “The training went very well today,” said Smith. “These Marines have done a great job doing a job that there are not very familiar with.”
Being quick to react in a time of need is essential for Marines who are deployed in a combat environment. Although QRF Marines are meant to be the first to fight, they must use that ethos when it comes to their reaction time. These Marines must work and train hard to make sure that in a time of need they are the first to respond and lend assistance to those in need it most.
For more information on the ongoing mission in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, visit www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/iimeffwd.