Marine Air Support Squadron 2 Marines sharpen skills
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines with Marine Air Support Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted a small-unit leadership course at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Oct. 12.
The course consisted of nine stations designed to challenge the Marines physically, build camaraderie, and reinforce and teach small-unit leadership while providing refresher training for basic Marine skills.
"If you don't train on the core disciplines and the core tactics for a while, you start to forget," said Sgt. Jesus M. Valle, medium tactical vehicle floor chief, MASS-2. "This training allowed our Marines to refresh those skills."
The stations were spread over a five-mile course and included training on convoy operations, establishing a landing zone, tying knots, setting up communications equipment, donning mission-oriented protective posture gear, calling for fire support, disassembly and assembly of .50-caliber Browning machine guns and M240 medium machine guns, and running an obstacle course while transporting a simulated casualty to further care.
"The training helped build motivation, esprit de corps and tactical skills," said Sgt. Maj. Jackie R. Robertson, sergeant major, MASS-2. "In Iraq and Afghanistan, (the forward units) used everybody regardless of what their job was, so it is important for all of the Marines to have these basic skill sets."
Maintaining ground combat skills helps the Marines stay well-rounded and prepared for future duty stations, as well as potential combat deployments.
"We're not infantry, so we don't always have the opportunity to practice the other side of our job, that is to say, being a rifleman," said Valle. "Having this kind of training now will help the Marines if they ever end up on the ground side … they will have kept these perishable skills fresh."
Squad leaders used the training evolution as an opportunity to practice small-unit leadership in a high-tempo operating environment while taking in tactical lessons, said Valle.
"They had 1 1/2 weeks to prepare for the course. We gave (the Marines) the (letter of intent) and they had to go look the stations up," said 1st Lt. Joshua M. Rodriguez, air support control officer, MASS-2. "That allowed them to use problem-solving techniques to figure out the best way to get through them."
Spreading the course out over five miles that included numerous hills introduced physical fitness to the equation, forcing Marines to maneuver through the stations despite their exhaustion.
"The training allowed the Marines to operate under stressful conditions when they were tired and fatigued," said Robertson. "It added an additional challenge to the event."
The stations also helped prepare the Marines to get the most out of an upcoming field training exercise at the Central Training Area by building unit cohesion and common skills beforehand, said Rodriguez.
The small-unit leadership course pushed the Marines to continue improving their basic Marine skills in an environment outside the realm of their daily routine
"The training today took the Marines out of their comfort zone," said Lt. Col. Alison J. MacBain, commanding officer, MASS-2. "They do a certain thing during day-to-day work and this takes them out of that, challenges them, and helps build their confidence."