Fox 2/7 masters MOUT

8 May 2006 | Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill

Patrolling through a desolate, dusty range far from civilization while wearing full gear in the sweltering desert heat, Marines of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, practiced their urban warfare skills over a two-day exercise to prepare them for their next deployment to Iraq.The 140 Marines from three of the company’s platoons departed Mainside May 8 for an hour-and-a-half ride to the isolated Range 210 urban training facility, which lies more than 25 miles northwest of Mainside, where they trained at both squad and fire team levels.The 26-building sprawl provided Fox Company the perfect classroom for military operations in urban terrain, or MOUT, training.Rotating through four different training evolutions throughout the first day, Marines learned and brushed up on their fundamental skills of movement outside of buildings, entering and room clearing, inside movement through buildings and entry techniques.The urban skills training was very important training for Fox Company, because of a recent influx of new Marines to the battalion straight from the School of Infantry, said Cpl. Corey L. Kerr, a squad leader with 1st Platoon, who helped instruct and guide his Marines through the courses and exercises.“We covered essentially all aspects of MOUT here, and I was there after the initial classes to help the Marines through it,” said the 20-year-old Chicago native who must help train his Marines before they deploy next year. “The Marines learned only the basics in SOI, and we build from that but we have little tricks here and there. We brush them up the way we want them to do it so when it comes game day and we go to Iraq, there is no question.“One of the challenges we face is getting the Marines all on the same page,” said Kerr. “Some of this is new material for them and this is the first time they have been in this type of environment, so we’re trying to get the basics down well. With repetition comes confidence, and we want them more confident in this type of environment.”Instruction for the Marines came from numerous sources within the company; from their platoon commanders, platoon sergeants, squad leaders, fire team leaders and fellow Marines, said Capt. George Hasseltine, Fox Company commander.“Sometimes you will have a team leader taking his fire team through a building as they learn or he’s taking one Marine through at a time to familiarize them with the room,” he said.“Overall, this exercise is actually going very well,” said Hasseltine. “You are starting to see the teams building and becoming more cohesive units. The experienced Marines take the new Marines under their wing and really mentoring them. So not only are the instructors teaching, but the Marines are teaching each other.”As the sun set over the desert, Marines took time to eat, clean weapons and prepare for a set of nighttime exercises around the range. When darkness had set, Marines were issued night vision goggles and marched back into the town. Although the moon was bright enough to cast a shadow on the ground, the inside of buildings was pitch black, forcing teams to take advantage of their gear.The night evolutions echoed those that had taken place earlier and included basic wearing and familiarization with night optics, clearing and moving inside rooms and searching buildings. Unlike the daytime exercises, Marines were briefed by their squad or fire team leader outside, who guided individuals through buildings. “We’re really learning a lot from the Marines who have experience with what works and what doesn’t work,” said Pfc. Zachary Kozisek, a squad automatic weapon gunner with 1st Squad, 1st Platoon. “The training we received [at SOI] really only gave us the basics, and these are things we need to know for Iraq.”Kozisek, a 19-year-old Minocqua, Wis., native, said he understands the emphasis put on MOUT training because many missions in Iraq are conducted within the confines of cities. The communication and feedback available from veteran Marines in the company is invaluable, he said. As day two began, Marines headed back onto the range for exercises similar to those conducted the previous day, but were at a faster pace and required the Marines to critique and correct themselves while instructors and leaders watched.One major topic new to the schedule was the practicing of long security halts, which could potentially vary in length from a couple of minutes to multiple days, said instructors.Marines were shown how to sweep the area during a foot patrol, how to set up hasty defenses, how to protect themselves inside of buildings and how to get into a “battle rhythm” when they are on long-duration operations in Iraq.Although this training evolution was only the start for the company, Fox Marines are scheduled to conduct follow-on exercises in coming weeks and culminate with a final MOUT exercise May 23, pitting squad against squad at Range 215 using the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, said Hasseltine.
Headquarters Marine Corps