Tactics, maneuvering perfected through paintball
URUMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- The stiflingly humid air felt heavy on the Marines as they prepared their equipment for the upcoming conflict.
Off in the distance, a whistle blew and all chatter stopped. The Marines quickly and quietly moved through the treeline until they emerged onto a dirt pathway.
Crossing in a tactical column, the Marines methodically made their way toward a crossroad. As they neared the dangerous terrain feature, the familiar report of a paintball gun rang out, unleashing its painful paint-filled pellets.
A group of 35 Marines and sailors trained in small-unit tactics via paintball July 26 at the Xsplat paintball field near White Beach Port Facility. The service members were with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF.
The goal of the training was to familiarize the Marines with small-unit fire-and-maneuver techniques while building unit cohesion and increasing morale.
“The Marine Corps definitely gave me the tactics and techniques to increase my skill in the (training),” said Lance Cpl. Matthew B. Deleon, a fire support man with 5th ANGLICO. “You don’t want to be the one to let your team down, so you work together to win as a team.”
During each match, the Marines used techniques they learned during the course of their careers to assist them in closing with and engaging the other team.
“During the matches, everybody was covering for each other, and there was excellent communication between them as they conducted fire team and squad rushes,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew T. Yeramian, the administrative chief with 5th ANGLICO.
In several instances, the Marines saw members of their team pinned down by a steady stream of paintballs, but through flanking maneuvers they were able to dislodge their opponent and return their teammates to the fight, according to Yeramian.
Along with the Marines executing small-unit tactics, the training increased morale and built unit cohesion.
“It was awesome to come out here and relieve some of the week’s stress,” said Sgt. Daniel J. Miner, a field radio operator with 5th ANGLICO. “It was a big boost for the morale of the unit, and everyone will be talking about it for days when we get back.”
“I ask everyone who checks in with (the unit) ‘What would be one thing you would want to do while you are with the unit?’ and almost everyone says they want to do paintball,” said Valerie Patmore, the coordinator of the event and family readiness officer for 5th ANGLICO.
As the last match ended, the Marines reflected on how the basic tactics used and competitiveness displayed between each team made it an exciting day for everyone.
“It was definitely a challenge … because you don’t want to let your team down,” said Deleon. “You don’t want to be the one to get hit and leave the buddy to your left and right vulnerable. This was one of the best days I’ve had.”