3rd Marine Division Super Squad Competition
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan – “The mindset out here for a competition like this?” asked Chief Warrant Officer 5 Craig Marshall, the division Marine gunner for 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Animalistic.”
Major subordinate commands from 3rd Marine Division and Marines from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force competed in 3rd Marine Division's annual rifle squad/crew-served weapons competition held in Okinawa, Japan from Nov. 28 - Dec. 2, 2016.
The competition, better known as the Super Squad Competition, has been slowly making a return after being put on hold during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. This year, it pitted 12 teams against each other in order to win the coveted Super Squad badge.
“We’re out here forward deployed with the mission to fight tonight,” said Marshall. “We want to test that skill and within that provide that competitive feeling amongst each other to force them to go a little bit further.”
The competition was separated into two parts, the crew-served weapons portion and the rifle squad portion.
The crew-served weapons portion had each team run four kilometers with their weapon system, perform ammo can lifts and complete a modified combat fitness test. The weapon systems included the M2 .50 caliber machine gun, the M240B medium machine gun, M249 light machine gun and the M224 60mm mortar system. They were also tested on their accuracy. The rifle squads were tested in their offensive/defensive capabilities, which required them to move and work together as cohesive unit.
“They say war is a battle of wills. That’s all the Marine Corps has,” said Marshall, from Grayson County, Kentucky. “We don’t have the best equipment… But the will of these Marines goes beyond any weapon system that we own and they accomplish greater things than anybody ever thought of.”
The competition provided them with a personal test of pushing themselves passed their limits by running as a team with entire weapon systems that weigh more than 100 pounds in Okinawa's tropical humidity and tough terrain, according to Marshall.
“It’s a good time when you’re all sticking together, moving fast and end up finishing together,” said Lance Cpl. Clayton Kennelly, from Newbury Park, California, a squad leader with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “You’re tired, exhausted and you feel like you actually did something for that day, which is good.”
The competition brought many teams together, but in the end, four teams rose to the top for each category. Heavy machine guns went to Combined Anti-Armor Team 2, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment representing 4th Marine Regiment. Medium machine guns went to Weapons Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. Mortars went to Weapons Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment representing 4th Marine Regiment. Rifle squad went to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion.
“With competition, even if you don’t win, everyone that competed in this training is better,” said Maj. Gen. Richard L. Simcock II, the commanding general for 3rd Marine Division, to the Marines who filled the chairs of the Camp Hansen theater during the competition’s closing ceremony Dec. 4, 2016.
After congratulating and awarding the victors, the commanding general left them with a message: “When you walk out of here today, keep in mind that this is the standard,” said Simcock, addressing the crowd. “Don’t rely on the generals, the colonels, the sergeants major or the first sergeants. Take responsibility of you and your Marines. Get ready for that fight. Because when it happens, it won’t be Rich Simcock with his 9mm at the end of the day, it’ll be you all.”