Urban terrain provides ideal location for combat readiness
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa - Marines form up behind one another at the entrance to a building occupied by hostile aggressors. The Marine in the rear initiates the chain reaction to enter, and while keeping together as if glued at the hip, the Marines rush inside, methodically clearing rooms and engaging the enemy.
Marines with 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, honed their basic rifleman skills Nov. 18-21 at the military operations on urbanized terrain town near Camp Hansen to build unit cohesion and enhance combat proficiency.
While at the MOUT town, the Marines learned basic infantry tactics, including patrolling, improvised explosive device recognition, proper response to aggressors, and room and building clearing techniques, according to Staff Sgt. Darrel W. Ignelzi, an engineer equipment electrical systems technician with the battalion.
“At first, we started off slow and without any (special effect small-arms marking system) rounds, so the Marines could get comfortable with what they’ve learned,” said Ignelzi. “But when they start firing at each other, you’ll see some of the Marines freeze up.
“With practice, they get past the fear of being shot at and learn to work together to clear rooms and assault buildings,” added Ignelzi.
The training commenced Nov. 18, when the Marines cleared open-air rooms simulated by cones and completed classes about breaching and IED recognition techniques at Camp Hansen.
Soon after, the Marines conducted a 9-mile hike to the MOUT town Nov. 20 to rehearse patrols and immediate action drills without the aid of SESAMS rounds.
On the final day of training, the Marines separated into squads to execute assaults and position defense with SESAMS rounds, putting into action the room breaching and clearing techniques, IED recognition and immediate action drills learned during the course.
“We did a lot of (planning and coordinating), putting people where we thought they would be best,” said Cpl. Matthias S. Lafritz, an engineer equipment electrical systems technician with the battalion. “At the end of the day, we improved over time. We (briefed each other) and figured out where we could go to make us successful.
“When we were breaching, we couldn’t get past the first floor at first, but over time we progressed further by using the tactics we learned and made it higher into the building,” added Lafritz.
After all the rounds had been fired, the Marines executed night patrols using AN/PVS-14 monocular night vision devices; scanning for simulated enemy units and IEDs. If the Marines failed to properly identify an IED, a nonlethal but startling bang would result.
“We kept (in) contact with the person in front of us since the visibility was pretty bad, so we had to work together against that,” said Cpl. Jessica A. Taylor, a motor vehicle operator with the battalion. “When anyone saw anything suspicious, they called it out. I loved this training, and personally I would like to stay out a week or two longer to get more comfortable with it.”
The numerous events brought the Marines together through the shared mental and physical fatigue associated with the training, according to Taylor.
“This was good for the unit, and it boosted morale,” said Taylor. “We know each other a lot better now.”
While most of the participants had not experienced this type of event since Marine combat training, that takes place immediately following basic training, they took advantage of the opportunity to sharpen their basic rifleman skills, according to Lance Cpl. Adam L. Bloom, a small-arms repairer/technician with the battalion.
“At first, I didn’t really know the members of my fire team; it took some time to adjust and work as a team,” said Bloom. “We became a tight-knit group through this exercise. It’s cool and essential because as Marines we need each other to get the job done.”