MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Their Israeli military uniforms are different from a U.S. Marine’s but their goals toward preparing troops for combat are similar.
March 13, Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein, chief of infantry and paratroopers, with Israel Defense Force, came aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to witness a display of the Infantry Immersion Trainer – a facility built to prepare service members for Afghanistan.
After Edelstein was briefed on the center’s capabilities, Maj. Gen. W. Lee Miller Jr., (acting) commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, asked a Marine squad leader who recently went through the training to describe its value.
“How effective has this been for you all?” asked Miller.
“It’s a lot different; it’s a lot better out here (infantry immersion trainer). When something actually goes boom it’s not going to physically hurt you but it’s not just a Marine saying, ‘Boom you’re down,’” said Sgt. Ryan M. Deis, a squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “It gives the new guys that haven’t been to Afghanistan yet a good opportunity to see that there is literally a language barrier. Out there breeds a lot of individual action. When I went through yesterday I was swamped and that forced my team leaders and the individual Marines to put themselves in positions were they could better affect the squad. I’m not directly telling them, ‘Hey you go here; hey you do that.’ It breeds a lot of individual action in there.”
Edelstein, Miller and trainers toured the facility and it appeared the structure possessed every piece of what one could expect of a deployed environment, such as dirt and gravel, signs in foreign languages, mud houses, and even a distinct fruity smell in the atmosphere.
Midway through their tour of the structure, Edelstein paused to speak. “Are they challenged with ethics?” Edelstein asked.
Vince Soto, a site lead at the Immersion Trainer explained that Marines are challenged to make decisions that could possibly affect their entire unit and are not only corrected when making a bad tactical decision but shown were they succeed as well.
“You have prepared a very good learning experience where they have to adapt to a situation,” said Edelstein.
As the tour continued, trainers explained the facility has 176 cameras recording all scenarios the Marines are put through. The film is used to evaluate the training after it is conducted.
To further show what happens in the center, Soto played a video clip showing a scenario of an Afghan role-player trying to plant an Improvised Explosive Device near Marines.
“Squads say that this is the best training they’ve received,” said Soto, a retired staff non-commissioned officer. “Every one of us (involved with the training) are retired with combat deployments. There’s no greater satisfaction than looking at the level of training these guys are getting and the feedback we get from them.”