MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
When Marines perform on-foot patrols during deployments, they must sometimes move quickly through obstacles such as locked doors or roads littered with improvised explosive devices. It’s times like that when having the knowledge to use an explosive charge to blow a door away or create a new path through a wall is beneficial.
Marines from Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division had their chance to train with several different munitions including C-4 explosives at a demolition range aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. during the last week of August 2011.
At the start of the week, Marines with Weapons Company drove to Engineer Training Area-3 where they immediately began training.
“This is a very good class that all of us need,” said Cpl. Dustin Howell, a vehicle commander and Telford, Tenn., native with Weapons Company’s Combined Anti-Armor Team. “Though myself and these Marines will usually be on mounted patrols, there is always that chance that we’ll be told to do an on-foot patrol or encounter a situation where we have to dismount and keep moving. That’s when classes like these become absolutely essential.”
After several classes on each of the different munitions they would be using and an in-depth safety brief to remind the Marines of the dangers of the munitions, the unit set to work on ETA-3’s live range.
They practiced with devices such as bangalores, a device used to breach obstacles such as concertina wire, and charges for clearing doors and making new pathways.
As the training week continued, the Marines’ initial enthusiasm for the training did not die down. For some, the training was the first time they had ever really worked with explosives, and for others it was an opportunity to gain more experience.
“I love doing this training,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Nordman, a squad leader with Weapons Platoon, Golf Company. “We used knowledge from this class all the time while we were deployed to Afghanistan, so a refresher like this helps keep everyone sharp and ready even while we’re back in the US.”
After the Marines completed most of the lecture portion of the training and practiced setting dummy charges, they began setting live munitions and counting down to the destruction of locked doors, inconvenient walls and the creation of new paths.
“This training is all about a unit’s freedom of movement,” said Cpl. Benjamin Gottwald, one of the instructors for the training at ETA-3. “It’s an essential skill not only for combat engineers but any Marine going on deployment to an urban environment. This course specializes in demolition but at ETA-3 we teach everything from explosives and different weapons systems to reconnaissance and land navigation.”
The training area itself has been designed specifically to compliment various types of training. Surrounded by trees and twisting paths with only a large shed where they teach the classes, the area appears very secluded. It is a range where Marines can practice with various weapons and a fake, urban environment made just for the demolitions training.
“Once the Marines are finished with these classes, they can get called to do things like foot patrols, and as long as they have all the right equipment, they don’t have to worry about running into impassable doors or minor obstacles like concertina wire or a high wall,” said Gottwald. “As an instructor, it’s my job to make sure these Marines have the knowledge they need to be able to go where they need to and complete their missions successfully.”