MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- Naval and Marine Corps Combat Battalion 22 members are combining both fighting and building skills during their annual Reserve Combined Arms Exercise in an unprecedented, unified offensive effort with the Marine Corps here.
The CAX program focuses on techniques and procedures of employing direct, indirect and air-delivered fire in consonance with ground maneuver. CAX gives fighting units an opportunity to sharpen their warfighting skills and is the most realistic live-fire training exercise in the Marine Corps.
"I?m getting training that I usually don?t get," said SW1 James C. Santestevan, who is attached to the NMCB-22 Air Detachment. "We?re with a Marine Corps rifle company that was tasked with squad assaults on fortified bunkers."
"We assisted them with their ammunition and by providing security for their flanks while the offense was doing their jobs," Santestevan continued.
The NMCB-22 Air Detachment is assisting the 3rd Platoon, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marines with maneuvers on the Range 400 series this week. One particular maneuver involved a platoon taking down a platoon-sized enemy from a fortified position.
Supported by a machine-gun base of fire, small rockets and other small arms, India Company with NMCB-22 Air Det. used trench-clearing procedures and mined-wire obstacle breeching kits to break through enemy fortifications and neutralize their opponents.
"The enemy, the Somalians, set up concertina wire," described EO1 Melvin J. Boyd, who acted as the radio operator for the platoon commander. "You crawl in using grappling hooks to bring the wire back to you, (keeping your head down) so you don?t get shot," Boyd continued.
"Once the wire is brought within reach, it?s snipped and a Marine will tie a string around his ankle and the razor-sharp wire, then take off running. When everything gets taut and tight, then he falls to the ground to get it out of the way," said Boyd, adding, "It was a blast today and something the Seabees don?t usually get to do."
"This morning went well," said Chief Warrant Officer Ken Coon Jr., 3rd Platoon Commander, India Company, 3/23, referring to the enemy capture maneuver. "We had pretty good critiques. I was pleased with the help of my radioman ? he picked up radio procedures quickly."
Coon said the Seabees that helped up on Machine Gun Hill did fine. "Not many units do this; this is pretty tough infantry training ? and it?s an extremely harsh environment, sharp rocks and sand, it?s extremely hot and the wind is constantly blowing."
Coon commended the Seabees on being willing to work hard at doing tasks like carrying ammunition for the infantrymen on this exercise.
"It was pretty impressive," the warrant officer emphasized.
Reserve Seabee projects aboard MCAGCC during CAX include building a culvert to keep a road from being washed away and rebuilding a bunker complex.