Engineers breach entryways
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, Okinawa, Japan -- As sunlight breaks through thick cloud cover, voices echo through the urban terrain. “Five, four, three, two, one – fire in the hole!” “Boom!” The blast is followed by a burst of fire and smoke that extends nearly 12 feet from the explosion. A stack of Marines waits anxiously behind a protective blanket, ready for their next move.
Explosions and crisp combat skills were on display as Marines with Combat Engineer Company, part of Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted urban mobility breaching training Dec. 6 at the Central Training Area near Camp Schwab.
“We are conducting urban mobility breaching training to ensure we are maintaining proficiency in our military occupational specialty,” said Staff Sgt. Justin R. Straws, a combat engineer and platoon sergeant with the company. “As part of the division, we support the infantry, and this training makes it easier for the infantry to enter buildings and do its job.”
During the training, the Marines made different charges for specific means of entry.
“We made window, oval, linear detonation cord, fence and doughnut charges out of detonation cord and C-4 explosives in order to breach doors, windows, fences and walls,” said Cpl. Shannon A. Parks, a combat engineer with the company. “We also went over how to provide security, move together in a formation called a stack, set the charges, protect ourselves from the explosion, and what to do in the event of a failed breach.”
The training was successful and beneficial to all who participated, as some of the Marines are new to the unit, according to 2nd Lt. Jason J. Romero, a platoon commander with the company.
“With a good amount of our Marines leaving and new Marines filling their spots, the training seemed to start off a little slow,” said Romero. “However, with the more experienced Marines here to help teach, the training progressed smoothly, and they really learned fast.”
The training also helped build camaraderie within the unit, according to Straws.
“I love being out here,” said Straws. “Being in the field gets us closer together by giving us a chance to talk to each other and build the trust between us – it builds our unit cohesion.”
When dealing with explosives, it is important to ensure everyone is using the proper personal protective equipment to avoid injuries during training, according to Parks.
“Safety comes first out here,” said Parks. “We make sure everyone wears a flak jacket, Kevlar helmet, ear and eye protection and gloves. We always use the protective blanket while breaching, and we keep a safe distance from the explosions.”
The Marines enjoyed the training and look forward to conducting it in the future, according to Parks.
“The training was great,” said Parks. “The Marines learned a lot, it was a really good time, and we would like to conduct this training more often.”