Marines, sailors compete for division title
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Rifle squads serve as the cornerstone of Marine combat operations, providing one of the basic foundations that influence mission accomplishment. The tactics that dictate the success of rifle-squad operations are among the most fundamental skill-sets a Marine posseses.
Six Marine rifle squads from throughout 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, demonstrated their mastery of squad operations during the 3rd Marine Division Rifle Squad Competition Sept. 23-27 at Camp Hansen and the Central Training Area.
The event was used to evaluate and improve the division’s standards-based infantry training, spark a competitive spirit, and crown the best squad in the division.
The competition hosted division Marines stationed across the Asia-Pacific region to include squads with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines, both based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii; 3rd Bn., 12th Marines; Headquarters Bn.; Combat Assault Bn.; and 3rd Reconnaissance Bn., all stationed on Okinawa.
In the past, the squad competitions were held Marine Corps-wide with the winners from each division ultimately competing for the high honor of knowing they were the best squad in the Corps.
“This is the first time that we have held something like this since (before) the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Master Sgt. Harry G. Taylor Jr., the acting training officer for G-3, operations and training, 3rd Marine Division.
The squads were constantly evaluated throughout the evolutions based on the standards set in the infantry training and readiness manual.
“Everything that the squads are doing during this competition is evaluated by the book, from proficiency with equipment to small-unit leadership within the squads,” said Taylor. “They are all giving maximum effort during this competition and are handling the events very professionally.”
Some of the more than 15 events included sweeping for improvised explosive devices, reacting to enemy contact, urban patrolling and convoy operations.
“There are a lot of factors to consider at each evolution, such as accurate suppression and sweeping for command wires to IEDs,” said Sgt. Jared J. Maxwell, an anti-tank missleman with CAB. “Overall, they were able to (accomplish the mission), but they also exposed what they have to work on and what other squads will have to consider in the future.”
The culminating event was a fire-and-maneuver course where the squads were evaluated on communication and rifle accuracy.
“At the end of the evolution, the Marines represented themselves well,” said Capt. Eric V. Kjono, the operations officer, S-3, training and operations, 4th Marines. “The events were a rigorous experience for the Marines, but they did not give up and showed determination and competitive spirit.”
The squad representing 3rd Recon Bn. came in first place, led by Cpl. Joseph P. Davis, a reconnaissance man with the battalion. At the end of the competition, his squad of Marines earned Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals as recognition for their outstanding proficiency.
“There’s always going to be a winner in a competition, but none of the Marines were losers coming out of this,” said Kjono. “I hope the event will set an appropriate foundation for (future competitions) as well as set the bar for future squads to make the event more rigorous and demanding.”