Company G goes back to basics with land navigation
WARRIOR BASE, Republic of Korea— They climb up ice-covered hills as snow flurries whip their faces. With maps and compasses in the other hand, they carefully dodge and push through thorny trees and dead branches to make sure their land navigation course is properly set up to test their Marines.
Senior enlisted Marines of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, readied a land navigation course Feb. 8 near Warrior Base in the Republic of Korea to test their Marines and prepare for the upcoming Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-2.
KMEP 14-2 is a regularly scheduled, combined, small-unit training exercise, which enhances the combat readiness and interoperability of ROK-U.S. Marine Corps forces.
The battalion is currently assigned to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.
“Land navigation has a very important role with our military occupational specialty being infantry,” said Staff Sgt. Corey A. Foster, a platoon sergeant with the company. “So, the goal is for our Marines to build proficiency in their land navigation skills.”
More than 40 two-man teams, all with Co. G, will have approximately four hours to make their way to at least three out of the five marked objectives to pass this test. There are a total of 20 marked objectives in the six-kilometer course, all of which contain a code for identification. Each team will have a map, protractor, compass, water and food, along with any additional required gear.
At the starting point, each team will be given a card with five grid points on it that leads to marked objectives. Before they begin, they will plot the grid points on the map given them. Platoon sergeants, platoon commanders or section leaders will verify if their plots are within the course.
When the teams are complete, they will return to the starting point where the codes they found will be verified.
The training will also benefit the Marines in other areas, according to 1st Lt. Joseph J. Balayti, platoon commander with the company.
“While it is land navigation, the Marines are given a challenge to get it done as quickly as possible, so it’s also kind of a physical fitness training as well,” said Balayti. “The snow, hills, wetness and cold weather will add to the realism of the training.”
Training in land navigation must be done often as it is a perishable skill, according to Foster. It builds the Marines’ confidence to be able to navigate in any environment.
“It’s about taking away the technology and getting back to the basics of infantry,” said Foster. “Batteries don’t last forever and technology is unreliable. These young Marines need to know that.”
From the time it takes to plan and coordinate the course, to the time the Marines complete it, both junior and senior Marines learn from the experience, according to 1st Lt. Moises A. Navas, the executive officer of the company.
“It builds my platoon commanders’ and platoon sergeants’ leadership and creativity being given a limited amount of space to work with, but they think outside of the box and come up with ways to train their Marines to meet the standard,” said Navas.