MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Divisio0,n trucked up to Fort A. P. Hill, Va., for pre-deployment training to prepare for future deployments.
The first phase of Marines to flow into this U.S. Army post moved in Oct. 9 and set up the more than 100 tents and 1,000 cots needed to house the battalion. The last phase of Marines returned to Camp Lejeune on Friday.
The training consisted of platoon assault courses, vehicle-mounted heavy machine gun courses, combat marksmanship program courses, known distance training courses, and mortar ranges. All of these ranges were conducted with live fire to prepare the battalion for deployments in the most realistic way possible.
“Our commander’s desired end state for this training was to allow the companies to focus on conventional, core-related collective tasks, as we prepare for future combined arms training at Exercise Mojave Viper next year,” said Maj. Dan Gaskell, the battalion’s operations officer.
Each course had its own specific training purpose and essential skills for a deployment to the Middle East. The five companies in the battalion rotated in and out of the ranges for a few days each. The courses help them be better prepared in each skill that they’ll needed in a deployment. Unlike prior training exercises, this evolution was geared more toward expeditionary operations.
The overall deployment to Fort A. P. Hill was a new experience for a large number of the Marines in the battalion. This training evolution required the battalion to establish a camp from scratch, to include command and control requirements and a field mess to feed the battalion.
The battalion’s communications platoon established e-mail and data connectivity that reached back to Camp Lejeune and beyond, keeping the battalion linked to the outside world.
“We could have stayed in barracks but we wanted the Marines and sailors to experience an expeditionary lifestyle,” said Maj. Tom Garnett, the battalion executive officer. “The colder weather, rain and harsher conditions ended up creating a lot of unit cohesion that will benefit us as we prepare for our upcoming deployment.”