FORT BLISS, Texas --
Marines with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment did a squad size live-fire exercise at Range 62 on Fort Bliss, Texas, April 5-6, 2014. The training is helping Echo Co. prepare for the Network Integration Evaluation exercise beginning in May, where the unit will be tasked with company size attacks on objectives.
The upcoming evaluation is a bi-annual training exercise where the Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, test new technology in a simulated combat scenario. This year is the first time multi-national and coalition forces have been invited to also evaluate the technology and test their skills against other forces during the exercise.
Task Force 2-8, a force made up multiple units from Camp Lejeune, N.C., is using the month of April to prepare its units for the upcoming exercise in May. Starting from small unit exercises and building up. Echo Co. was among the first to begin training.
“From this range I want the squad leaders and team leaders going away having built on their communication, so they understand how each fire-team moves as a squad to accomplish the objective,” said Jacksonville, Fla., native Gunnery Sgt. Craig Garrett, the company gunnery sergeant. “And I want the Marines new to the company to know how each team works with one another as a squad to complete the mission. I also want the new Marines to know how to operate within the teams individually; controlling their rate of fire, staying in their lanes, knowing the Marine to the left and right of them, and that they are able to put rounds on target.”
Echo Co.’s leadership was able to successfully prepare its Marines for the range after scouting the range and looking over terrain models, a scaled down replication showing in detail the area of operation, said Garrett.
Once at the range, Marines began building terrain models, and performed mission rehearsals.
Marines moved over 800 meters as a squad through tough terrain to reach their objective and defeat the enemy, an electronically operated pop up target. While a squad of Marines moved over the terrain, machine gun teams provided support with M240B machine guns and mortar teams provided notional supporting fire on the target.
“It’s a pretty good live-fire range,” said Cpl. Marc Casimiro, a team leader from Mastic, N.Y. “Going through ranges like this with someone, will really show you how they operate inside the team and if they can shoot and communicate effectively. We have five new guys in our squad alone, but we’re not approaching it any differently. The only difference here is that the squad leaders and team leaders are a little more watchful over them. Just to make sure they know their job within the team and aren’t putting anyone in danger.”
The training helped build up the squads for future platoon and battalion size attacks in the near future. Once everyone in Echo is comfortable with their squad’s performance they plan on moving on to platoon exercises and more advanced tactics, said Casimiro.
“The Marines performed very well,” said Garrett. “This was only squad attacks, but during NIE we will be tasked by battalion to perform a few company attacks using all the platoons together in a similar manner that we used the squads out here. This training is a stepping stone for NIE and will definitely pay off very soon.”