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Pfc. Javier Hinojosa, rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, watches for enemy activity from the back of a humvee while leaving a notional Forward Operating Base during the final exercise of Mojave Viper Oct. 31.

Photo by Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

2/7 takes to the field before Iraq deployment

31 Oct 2006 | Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

Marines and sailors from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, finished the final exercise in their month-long Mojave Viper Oct. 31.The training took the battalion through several ranges and finished with a three-day final exercise outside a range filled with role-players for a realistic training exercise.“The guys are so well trained,” said Lt. John T. Meixner, Company F executive officer from Nooksack, Va. “It’s a good feeling finishing up this training.”Mojave Viper, along with its final exercise, gave the Marines an up close and personal experience with real Iraqi people and the scenarios they may encounter once in country. Those training the Marines are more than just role-players; many of them are actually from Iraq. They know the customs and traditions, how people react to American military forces and how Marines and sailors can build a good report with Iraqis.“It’s pretty robust training, with an emphasis on the individual Marines and their unity of thought and action,” said Meixner. “We’re building the Pfc’s ability to make decisions in a complicated environment. It’s building a system of judgment.”The Marines take away a myriad of new skills so they are more capable of handling crucial, quick decisions when necessary. They get to interact face-to-face with Iraqi civilians and police. They also sustain and improve urban fighting skills, room clearing techniques, and patrolling and securing a defense.“Mojave Viper is very valuable training,” said Gunnery Sgt. H. Kindrick, F Company gunnery sergeant. “They’re constantly updating it. Anytime the Marines get training in what they do, it’s not a waste of time.”A month-long training operation can wear anyone out. As they neared the last day, many of the Marines said they couldn’t wait to get home, get a shower and “just relax.” But while their minds may have drifted toward getting the exercise over with, they didn’t lose sight of the main goal - training for combat in Iraq. “This is very realistic. It’s pretty close to the actual thing,” said Lance Cpl. Scott Huse, a Company F rifleman from Pendleton, Ind. “I can’t wait to go back to Iraq. I’m psyched.”The Marines finished a successful training operation and feel they’ll be ready once their boots hit the dirt in Iraq.
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