MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
In an open field, next to the ocean, approximately 800 Marines and sailors have turned a meadow into a fully functional command post capable of commanding thousands of Marines in any situation. However, this command post isn’t a normal field operation it is a training exercise for leaders.
About 800 Marines and sailors trained in the field this week in order to better prepare the staff non-commissioned officers and officers for any situation that may arise during the command post exercise aboard Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, Jacksonville N.C.
“This exercise is for the officer’s and staff [staff non-commissioned officers] to execute scenarios to work out standard operation and procedures problems and build their confidence in leading Marines,” said Lt. Col. Shane Tomko, the division operations officer and Chicago native, who organized and planed the CPX.
When Marines are put into action what most people don’t see is what is happening behind the scenes. The Marines who are leading the attack on a hostile enemy building or building a sand bag wall to help keep water out during a natural disaster is taking orders that are originating from a command post.
“These Marines have been put in different type of scenarios, everything from humanitarian relief exercises, special operation’s missions to full combat operations,” said Tomko. “These Marines have to be prepared for anything.”
A field exercise of this magnitude requires a lot of work to be put into it. It takes a lot of time and effort to build the area of operations.
“Even though the exercise took place over three days, Marines have been setting this place up for about a week,” said Lt Col. Ladd Shepard, the 2nd Marine Division Training Officer, and a Tryon, N.C. native. “Nothing is easy, from setting up phone and computer networks, to erecting tents and deploying security force to guard the post, the Marines really worked hard to make this field op successful.”
After the set-up of the command post, other challenges present themselves.
“The most challenging part of the exercise for me personally was the exercise design,” Shepard said. “I asked myself ‘How do you make an exercise realistic enough to keep that many Marines gainfully employed to meet the division commanding general’s intent?’ So, the training objectives were shared with the II MEF simulations center and they then worked to develop the products necessary to execute this exercise.”
At the completion of the exercise, through all the hard work and all the time that Marines put into making this exercise successful, there was a general consensus among all the leaders of this operation.
“All the Marines and sailors involved in this exercise did an outstanding job over the past three days of execution, the preceding seven days of set up and the past two months of planning and preparation,” Shepard said. “I believe the division staff and officers achieved its training objectives and we are grateful for the support from all the resources that made this a successful training op.”
“Every Marine and sailor that was involved in this operation did a superb job,” said Tomko. “After being in the Marine Corps for 30 years, I can say one thing about Marines, Marines don’t change, they work hard and get the job done no matter how large the task is or how hard the objective seems to get to.”