MARINE CORP AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- According to the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion’s Web site, the mission of an amphibious assault battalion is to land the surface assault elements of the landing force and their equipment in a single lift from assault shipping during amphibious operations to inland objectives and to conduct mechanized operations and related combat support in subsequent mechanized operations ashore.
Along with their mission, they are to provide direct and indirect fire support as required within the capability of their weapons systems during amphibious operations ashore.
Delta Company, 3rd AABn, exercised a different, yet equally valuable role March 9 as they stepped out of their amphibious assault vehicles and stormed Combat Center Range 215 on foot.
The company returned from Camp Schwab, Okinawa, serving with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Dec. 12, and are expecting a deployment to Iraq later this year.
The company kicked-off their first training exercise since their return from the Western Pacific, executing maneuvering drills, and more recently, military operations on urban terrain.
“We normally do not get to perform a lot of infantry training,” said Staff Sgt. Garret Robinson, section leader with 1st Platoon, Delta Company, and an Airville, Pa., native. “We usually support an infantry unit when training here, but now it’s our turn to take a shot at this MOUT facility.”
According to the company’s Web site, they are tasked with supporting 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, “New England’s Own” reserve battalion, as they partake in a month long pre-deployment training evolution dubbed Mojave Viper. However, since Delta Company will also be deploying to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, they too are partaking in Mojave Viper, said Robinson.
Throughout the second week of March, the company was educated and trained on urban warfare. Capt. Christopher E. DeAntoni, commanding officer of urban warfare training center teams, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, taught classes on clearing houses, patrolling cities, and maneuvering AAVs through the MOUT town streets.
“Cordon searches are vital when patrolling the streets in Iraq,” said DeAntoni during a class with Charlie Company, 1/25, and 1st Platoon, Delta Company, 3rd AABn. “This is what we do to gather important information about Iraqi cities.”
After morning classes, the units performed their lessons in the MOUT facility, interacting with role players who dwell on the range.
“This is the best set-up I’ve ever seen,” said Staff Sgt. Jared Hoversten, a section leader with Delta Company, and an Iowa Falls, Iowa, native. “This facility is the best way to train for any circumstances we may encounter during our deployment. These tasks we execute here are tasks AAV trackers aren’t necessarily used for, but it’s always a possibility we might have to perform. We usually don’t get this type of training so we are definitely taking advantage of it.”
Delta Company’s first platoon broke into two sections during these training exercises. They performed vehicle block drills, personnel detail searches for weapons, building entries by permission, building entries by force, reaction to improvised explosive devices, city patrolling and reaction to snipers.
The training was new to all AAV crewmen, even though some had prior deployments to Iraq.
“This was a great learning experience,” said Sgt. Jerome Griego, an assistant section leader with Delta Company and an Albuquerque, N.M., native. “I’ve been with the company for almost three years and this is my first time patrolling this terrain. It’s a great way to prepare for Iraq, especially in a mental sense. The role players made me feel as though I was in an actual situation. Training with the simunition rounds was an eye-opener. It let us know where we stand, and what we need to do.
“I expect to continue this type of training,” continued Griego. “The more we train this, the better we will become with these situations. We are taking in a lot right now. We all pay close attention so we can hit these exercises hard. Being on foot is very different from what we’re used to, but soon that will change.”
Delta Company is known for their vehicles and weapons systems, said Griego. Even though the vehicles were made for the ocean as well as land, the company feels more skilled on land, because of their vast training area aboard the Combat Center.
“We are very proficient in our military operational specialty,” said Cpl. Joshua L. Waters-Jackson, an AAV crew chief with Delta Company, and a Des Moines, Iowa, native. “Now it is time to excel on our infantry training. A lot of us found the training really interesting. We have a new way to look at combat scenarios. There are many new Marines in our unit and not too many Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. We usually train to proficiency, and that’s what we will continue to do. We have high expectations around here, so we will get the best out of our pre-deployment training.”