MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The unique features of the Mojave Desert allow Marines to acclimate themselves to a desert environment similar to what many will encounter in Iraq or Afghanistan. The training also prepares the Marines for many possible scenarios, including highly kinetic operations.
The Marines with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, recently conducted training here in preparation for upcoming deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The training included the reconnaissance assault course, a range which simulated ambushes, setting up ambushes and familiarization with M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel mines. Particularly Marines from the battalion’s personnel security detachment used the training to hone their basic infantry tactics and skills. The PSD is made up of a collage of Marines from different backgrounds and military occupational specialties.
“It was pretty realistic. It was good training for everyone, especially because we have a mixture of reconnaissance and support element Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Jason Barts, a team leader and vehicle commander. “We went out there and demonstrated near and far ambush scenarios; how to react and suppress the enemy. It’s good training for Iraq or Afghanistan.”
The range involved the use of machine guns, anti-tank rockets and other small arms to eliminate threats.
“We used everything from M-4[service carbines] and M-203[grenade launchers] up to the [.50 caliber Browning machine gun] and the AT-4[anti-tank rocket],” said Lance Cpl. Michael Cummings, a vehicle driver. “It was our first combat training with live-fire using our vehicles.”
The men simulated a patrol through varying desert terrain as the mission began. As the vehicles pushed along an unpaved road they drew contact and reacted by facing their vehicles toward the simulated enemy. Machine gunners aimed at the notional enemies and opened fire, working through carefully rehearsed immediate action drills.
Several bursts of machine gun fire filled the air and drivers from two of the vehicles moved into safe positions with AT-4s. Vehicle commanders provided security as the men sighted in on their enemy targets.
The drivers looked over their left and right shoulders to ensure a safe distance behind them is clear and shouted a warning to everyone in the area.
“Back blast area all secure!”
The drivers sighted back in on their targets and pushed the firing mechanism while simultaneously shouting the final warning.
The distinctive sound of a rocket blast filled the area and a cloud of dust lingered over the scene while machine gunners continued to suppress the enemy until the threat was eliminated.
The training the men received will be critical in the months to come as the battalion deploys overseas. The men have spent the last several months together preparing for what lies ahead of them.
“We’ve been together for six months now; living together, training together, getting ready for deployment,” said Barts, an Alpharetta, Ga. Native. “This training showed us how our IA drills and [standard operating procedures] worked.”
The Marines and sailors of 2nd Reconnaissance Bn. are scheduled to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom later this year.