MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Service members constantly train and prepare for Iraq, but for some the training is harder and the hours are longer. This type of training is what prepares the Marines and sailors of 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division for their upcoming deployment to Iraq.
Lance Cpl. Patrick L. Norton and his fellow artillerymen with 2nd Battery, 10th Marine Regiment trained intensely since September in preparation for the exercise, Cajun Viper, which is their final test before deploying to Iraq.
For Norton and his brothers in arms, the instruction in areas such as basic security, enhanced marksmanship, military operations in urban terrain, rules of engagement and heavy load and weapons training was stressful.
“Sometimes we get stressed out from the constant bombardment of training and knowledge we, as Marines, must learn,” he explained. “We also know, deep down, that the training, such as EMP and MOUT, is what will help keep us from harms way.”
These EMP exercises taught the 2004 Hatton Public High School graduate and his comrades how to spot, aim and take out a target from within 50 yards in a matter of seconds. MOUT taught them the specifics of close quarters combat and room clearing. These courses are a vital part of a Marine’s training due to its similarities to environments faced in Iraq.
“It seems like EMP was running on clockwork, because it was like every other week we were doing a shoot,” said the Hatton, Ala., native. “It got more and more wearing, but we also became more and more skilled.”
While Norton and the Marines of the Regiment are in Iraq, they will perform many roles the training, which covers basic security and rules of engagement, has been preparing them for, said Pfc. Orlando Rivera, a native of Fayetteville, N.C.
The rules of engagement and basic security training taught Norton and Rivera the policies and skills vital to maintaining proper civilian and military relations as well as base and military security.
“Our non-commissioned officers would constantly drill us on knowledge and try to catch us off guard on stuff we were taught and should know,” Rivera said. “If we didn’t know the answer to their questions right when they asked us, you can be sure that we did after 20 minutes of drilling it on the spot.”
When Norton and Rivera began their journey in early September 2006, they didn’t know what they were doing or if they were totally prepared for Iraq. But now, in January 2007, they are confident in their ability to perform any mission they are assigned while in Iraq.
“We have been worked hard and have felt like tired dogs at the end of most training days, but now our unit is tight and we are almost reacting to training situations like we wrote the book on it,” Rivera said. “I think we are prepared for both Cajun Viper and Iraq.”