MARINE AIR GROUND TASK FORCE TRAINING COMMAND, Calif. -- In conjunction with preparing for a possible deployment to Iraq, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, the Rhinos, held a squadron-level live fire convoy exercise Dec. 9 through 12.
The training at Lead Mountain training area covered two-days of tactical convoys and one evening convoy with Marines aboard vehicles carrying M16 A2 service rifles, the M-240 G machine gun, Squad Automatic Weapons and squadron military police heading the convoy with .50-caliber heavy-barrel machine guns. The 260 Marine exercise helped the squadron prepare for various scenarios during a simulated convoy operation.
"Today we're simply getting Marines familiarized with shooting from a platform," explained Gunnery Sgt. Richard Avery, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, live fire convoy, MWSS-374, on the third day of the exercise. "We're doing convoy procedures to react against sniper attacks, hasty and deliberate ambushes and improvised explosive devices."
According to 1st Lt. Tim Rourke, commanding officer, Support Company, MWSS-374, the training was valuable since the Marines engaged in targets while on the move and used their issued weapons as well as the mounted crew-served weapons.
"All the Marines came into the week ready to learn and continued that motivation throughout the entire exercise," said Rourke. "Several scenarios allowed the Marines in the convoy to make decisions and employ the tactics and techniques they learned throughout the week in classes."
"Rourke said the training gives Marines confidence if there is an upcoming deployment. During the beginning of OIF I, 70 Marines from the squadron were deployed to Iraq." "This was the largest convoy our unit has ever undertaken. The companies performed excellently [together]," said Rourke. "This exercise was best executed at the squadron level due to the volume of information that we want to ensure every Marine in the squadron has prior to . [The command] wants each Marine to know what their individual responsibility will be in a convoy."
The squadron also plans to continue their training January at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., during Operation Desert Talon. They will set up Forward Arming and Refueling Points and conduct convoy operations. These exercises use experiences from the first deployment in support of OIF to better prepare Marines, according to Rourke.
"The lessons learned aren't 374 specific as not a lot of Marines deployed, but rather, we're taking lessons learned from multiple sources to include Marine Wing Support Group 374 the other three squadrons in our group deployed for OIFÑall Marine Corps units, and even Army after-action reports," explained OÕRourke. "Essentially, convoys are becoming targets for the enemy, and we need to adapt our tactics and procedures to deal with the changing tactics of the enemy."