MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The combat environment in Iraq becomes tenser day by day as physical endangerment and sporadic assaults have become a lifestyle for Marines and sailors there. The Marine Corps has been facing one of its most severe problems in Improvised Explosive Devises as convoys are vulnerable to these attacks and threatened on a daily basis.
Infantry Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division demonstrated new training capabilities here May 14, which when implemented, can help Marines combat this threat in the future. The Marines performed convoy drills at Observation Post 2 as part of the new Convoy Operations Course displaying the beginnings of a new, more realistic training facility.
“Nothing’s more important than training right now,” said Robert L. Hayes, assistant chief of staff for II Marine Expeditionary Force G-3. “We asked Marines and sailors who were in Iraq for their input in order to make the training more realistic.”
More realistic meant doubling and expanding the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility, and adding a dedicated convoy course to the MOUT facility, which when completed, will be nearly 15 miles long.
“It was a six-month process,” Hayes said. “When figuring in the training we need before taking over operations in Iraq this year we know that convoy training is most important. Convoys are vulnerable to IED attacks and we needed to prepare.”
The course simulates near and far ambushes where a vehicle goes down and Marines have to dismount and attack. There are also simulated hostages and the Marines have to react to insurgents using civilians as shields.
“This training is very realistic,” said Maj. Gen. Robert C. Dickerson, commanding general, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune. “It will enhance the abilities of Marines before deploying to the battlefield.”
The training facility features pop-up targets, combat sounds explosions and live ammunition as Marines move around in heavy-duty trucks and humvees near a simulated city.
“This all increases situational awareness with live rounds flying and explosives being blown nearby,” Hayes said.
The MOUT facility is just the beginning here as most ranges and courses are being modernized.
“We’re making all training mission essential,” Hayes said. “This will provide our troops with more opportunities to get the necessary training.”
Training is a way Marines prepare to fight the Global War on Terrorism and now the Corps has taken further steps in ensuring the safety of Marines in combat.
“We now have a dedicated Convoy Course that we can implement into the predeployment training package,” Hayes said.