MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- There are more than 133,000 troops in Iraq fighting the Global War on Terrorism, according to a testimony made by the Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld on Aug. 3, but there are also troops protecting the home front against acts of terrorism and crime.
The Headquarters Battalion Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Platoon was created to establish protection of military personnel, their families and government facilities from potential acts of terrorism and other criminal or destructive acts while aboard the Combat Center, according to Marine Corps Order 3302.1 C.
While all military personnel are required to know how to detect terrorism and defend the nation against it, the ATFP Platoon specializes in this department by continuing in the study of combat and basic fighting skills to increase their readiness.
More than 25 Marines of the Headquarters Battalion ATFP Platoon conducted a live-fire Enhanced Marksmanship Program exercise at the Combat Center's Marksmanship Training Unit Range Oct. 11.
The purpose of the training was to improve individual combat marksmanship abilities in the ATFP Platoon, said Gunnery Sgt. Jimmy Cortez, platoon commander and primary marksmanship instructor.
The Marines were given classes on EMP drills and practiced with dry fire before performing with live rounds.
Rifles were fired from a short distance, 50 to 25 meters, to practice close-quarters combat, as well as moving while shooting at an opponent. This created a more realistic training environment for the Marines, said Cpl. Ryan S. Miller, operations clerk, Installations and Logistics Directorate.
"This is great training for the Marines," he said. "I think all Marines should have to do more training like this."
Miller has been part of the ATFP Platoon for almost a year and enjoys the extension of training he receives at the monthly meetings they have, he said.
"Last month, we learned about surviving and counterattacking attacks from sharp-edged knives," said Miller. "That was really fun. We all enjoyed that."
The Marines are also given classes on setting up and maintaining a decontamination area for nuclear, biological, chemical warfare attacks; military police procedures; patrolling; searching buildings; and working alongside the fire department and the Provost Marshal's Office in their training, said Cortez.
The platoon is also prepared to augment PMO while in Force Protection Bravo or higher. Force Protection Bravo is the second level in the Department of Defense Force Protection Levels. There are four levels to notify personnel of possible dangers in the area, according to the Web site, htlp://www.defenselink.mil. Normally, the Combat Center is at Force Protection Threat Condition Alpha.
The ATFP Marines normally keep up their daily routine while taking on the responsibility to back up PMO in a crisis, provide security on base and take pride in doing so, said Lance Cpl. Steven Hadsell, communications center operator, Communications and Data Directorate.
"I'm very proud to be part of this platoon with these Marines," he said. "Most of us are volunteers who stepped up to take on this extra task to help Marines and their families close to home. I'm trying to soak up as much skills as I can to better serve my country."