MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Marines of 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, held battalion-sized training exercises at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility here Sept. 18-28.
The 10-day training prepared the Marines for Mojave Viper, a month-long predeployment training exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.
The Marines were armed with several types of weapons and blank rounds that produced loud pops to simulate a real combat environment. They searched for insurgents, improvised explosive devices, and anything else unusual within the structures of MOUT town.
“Anytime we get to use buildings like this to train is awesome,” said 2nd Lt. Patrick J. Skehan, platoon commander with 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company. “Staying in a training mind frame the whole time helps.”
The Marines said they believe training at MOUT town keeps them “cocked and loaded,” or highly prepared, for whenever they are ordered to deploy to Iraq.
“(Leaders) want everyone to have the best training they can possibly receive,” said Pfc. Daniel A. Barfuss, a mortarman with Weapons Company. “If everybody stays (in a non-training environment) and gets the minimal amount of training, you’re going to get a minimal amount of performance when it counts.”
Cultural instructors assisted in training the Marines. The instructors, who are actual Iraqi natives, played different roles in the training, such as insurgents and friendly security forces.
The instructors said they are assisting the Marines to ensure success for American and Iraqi troops fighting in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“The training we do here will help save American and Iraqi lives,” said an Iraqi role-player. “We just want the Americans to be safe when they go to Iraq.”
The instructors were one realistic touch applied to the MOUT facility to improve the training experience. The Marines then applied their knowledge in that realistic environment to enhance their own capabilities.
“The Marines are definitely more confident after receiving training here,” Skehan said. “They are starting to pick up on things they weren’t previously taught.”
Many of the warriors said they noticed a stronger bond and a higher level of confidence throughout the battalion because of the training.
“The Marines are just hootin’ and hollerin’,” said Sgt. Frank J. Scanna, a platoon sergeant with Weapons Company. “It’s an opportunity to do things we normally don’t do, like throwing grenades and shooting live rounds.”
The leaders credited the battalion’s camaraderie and hard work for making the training successful.
“I liked the intensity,” Scanna said. “On a scale of one to 10, I would give us a 9.5.”
With the training complete, the Marines are now preparing for the intense heat and challenging scenarios that await them in Twentynine Palms.