Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
Dark clouds, mud and rain didn’t keep the Marines of Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, from going to Combat Town as part of their battalion field exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 23-26.
Combat Town consisted of a wide variety of training exercises for Company B, such as cordon and control, clearing buildings, improvised explosive device lanes and offensive and defensive fundamentals. While training at the platoon, squad and company level at combat town is conducted multiple times a year, the battalion level it occurs very rarely.
“It’s always good for Marines to get out here at platoon and battalion level and work together to do these exercises,” Sgt. Philip J. Farmer, squad leader with 1/8. “Also, with such a wide variety of training like we’re getting, we will be able to handle some of the worst situations because of the coordination and communication that we have improved on.”
The purpose of the exercises was for Marines to learn how to eliminate the enemy threat in a close-quarters environment. The goal of the training and biggest challenge for the infantry unit is to transition senior Marines from Iraq training to Afghanistan training. For the junior Marines, the training is meant to teach them the basics of each exercise.
“A lot of stuff has changed over the past few years from Iraq to Afghanistan, and these exercises are helping us prepare for close quarter engagements and reminding everyone of the basics,” said Farmer. “I think training like this is crucial, especially for junior Marines, because any training with [military operations on urban terrain] relies a lot on your individual actions. You have to be that much sharper at reacting to commands and things that happen around you.”
One of the last events for the company was a cordon and control of a building. Insurgent-role-players fired upon Marines as they tried to clear the structure. As a part of the training, Marines also had to provide treatment to wounded Afghanistan National Army soldiers and Marines.
“The training these Marines are conducting is as close as to what can be replicated without actually being deployed,” said 1st Lt. Kevin J. Fitzsimmons, the executive officer for Company B. “Some of the challenges they face having the ANA attached to the patrols is the language barrier. Even though they are role players, if one gets injured or they want to talk to the locals they have to use interpreters.”
“Even though it’s pouring rain, I think that my squad and the other squads are performing very well and taking care of business and completing the tasks assigned,” said Farmer. “It gives me a good feeling seeing my Marines having problems at first and by the end of this training being able to pull together and complete the exercises.”