Force Protection command changes

24 Nov 2003 | SSgt. Timothy S. Edwards

Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., replaced Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, here providing here providing force protection for service members deployed in support of counter-terrorism missions in the Horn of Africa November 19.

India Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines combines combat experience with counter-terrorism security training to provide integrated force protection for personnel on Camp Lemonier.

According to India Company First Sergeant, 1st Sgt. Donald D. Brazeal, what makes them well suited for this type of mission is their flexibility.

"We go from conventional operations to security operations without losing focus of what we really are, a Marine rifle company," he explained. "We take a detailed approach to the training and missions we are tasked. India Company takes a keen interest in the details of planning and execution of all our missions."

India Company redeployed in June from Operation Iraqi Freedom, where they engaged in heavy combat as part of Task Force Tarawa.

After their return to the states, they were ordered to Marine Corps Security Forces Training Command in Chesapeake, Va. for security training.

In Chesapeake, India company went through a training package that better prepared them for their current mission in force protection, according to Brazeal.

While at this course, the Marines completed an advanced marksmanship program as well as the combat pistol and shotgun course, where they focused on security with these weapon systems.

"This was beneficial for us to do as a conventional infantry company in support of this type of mission (counter-terrorsim)," said Capt. Charles R. Cassidy, company commander. "It was good in the sense that it gave our Marines a chance to do combat marksmanship training they might be asked to do out here."

According to Cassidy, one of the most beneficial parts of training at the Security Force Training Center was the modified version of what the basic security force personnel go through. The course included fundamentals of interior guard, establishment of the guard and searches of vehicles and personnel.

"The training itself shows the Marines they will be able to turn off the combat mindset and get into a security mindset," Brazeal said.

"It really helped to reorient us," Cassidy explained. "That was our first real challenge. This is really challenging for Marines to go through especially coming off of OIF. Eighty to 90 percent of this company was in OIF, and the escalation of force is a lot more critical here. You can't get away with treating everyone like a detainee right off the get go and deadly force is a lot more restricted.

"That was a very big challenge, and this course snapped everybody's minds around. It got them thinking," he continued.  "We had a lot of supplemental training come from this course as well."

Looking to the future, 1st Sgt. William L. Tevepaugh, first sergeant, Mike Company 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, said that India Company's biggest challenge will be avoiding boredom and keeping the Marines motivated as the mission becomes mundane and repetitive.

"Keeping the Marines minds in the game," Cassidy agreed will be the hardest part of their mission here. "It is a mundane mission. With the Marines just getting back from OIF, doing stuff Marines want to do and then seeing more Marines getting redeployed to Iraq right now is a bitter pill to swallow."

India Company already has a plan to counter this problem.

"We are focusing on their mindset here," he explained. "Keep their minds sharp, constantly reinforcing and giving them a sense that their mission is important here.

"It is 90 days of guard duty, but we have taken a different approach to it," Cassidy continued. "Instead of looking at it as guard duty, we are trying to keep a professional flare. So we look at it as we are in the defense right now. You standing post is not you on fire watch, it's you standing in your observation position in the defense.

"Instead of adopting certain terms, something as simple as guard mount, where we get ready to go on post, we use the term final inspection. This keeps them in a mindset like going on a patrol. It is just the basic terminology to try to keep them thinking.

"To prep for combat is to prep for combat, he explains."

By marrying this up with conventional training, they plan to combat the mundane aspects of any force protection mission and keep their Marines focused on the overall objective.

One type of conventional training India Company conducted soon after getting here was to Battle Site Zero their weapon systems. This is where Marines sight in their weapons to a new climate wearing the same gear they would wear into combat. This builds confidence that the weapon will fire true in this new environment and reinforces the Marines' previous training with the weapon.

India Company also has other missions besides force protection for Camp Lemonier, according to Cassidy. "We also have some 'on order, be prepared to' missions for embassy reinforcements and port security.

Prior to redeploying, Mike Company had made a number of improvements to the force protection of the camp.

"We have reconstructed every post except the metal towers. The ECP has moved for smoother vehicle operations on and off base and the sniper positions have been replaced," Tevepaugh explained.  "If you can see better, you can operate better, which makes communications better."

Improvements are continuing actions, according to Brazeal. "That is a mindset we are going to continue to maintain. If we see something that needs to be improved upon, we are going to recommend it and make the changes once they are approved."

With India Company on deck, Mike Company is headed back to their battalion to get ready for the Combined Arms Exercise and then on to other missions.

"I did not expect all the support from everyone here," Tevepaugh said. "The Marines on this camp are some of the most professional I have ever met."

According to Brazeal, the elements of force protection are deep set in all Marines.

"This is the oldest mission in the Marine Corps, Interior Guard," he said. "We are all taught it at basic training by our drilling instructors. All this is, is reiterating what they are taught. Their 11 general orders still remain."

Headquarters Marine Corps