MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
During the second week of their predeployment training known as Mojave Viper, the Marines of 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, went to Range 400 here Oct. 26-28 to perform live-fire training exercises.
Range 400 is used to train rifle companies about techniques, tactics and procedures in a combat zone. Platoons exercise fire and movement, conduct area reconnaissance and process and distribute intelligence.
Marines and sailors go through preparatory training evolutions prior to Range 400 that remediate, develop and refine platoon and squad skills, according to the Range 400 field reference guide.
“Range 400 gave us some great training,” said Cpl. Kenneth J. Schlitt, a squad leader with 4th Platoon, Company A, preparing for his second deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “We rehearsed everything well and had a good plan in place and we executed it.”
The range officials and battalion leaders emphasized the importance of paying extra attention to detail and remaining focused throughout the exercise.
“(We had to remain focused because) we had troops moving around on the ground,” Schlitt said. “We just had to maintain good suppression and keep a safe distance from the troops.”
The battalion leaders said they believe going “live”, or firing live rounds, is vital to getting the Marines comfortable with employing their weapons carefully and getting in a combat mindset.
“Live fire is definitely essential,” Schlitt said. “We don’t want to train without live fire, go into the country, use live fire for the first time and have the guys (unprepared) for all the booms.”
With the Range 400 training exercise complete, the Marines are now preparing for the simulated training portion of the month-long training evolution.
“I can’t wait to start doing the simulation training,” said Lance Cpl. William E. Conner, rifleman with 2nd Platoon, Company B. “The guys are going to learn the importance of cover, because right now we haven’t done a lot of simulation training. But when we get to, it’s only going to make everything even better.”