MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a Military Operations in Urban Terrain Exercise March 14-29 at a closed Air Force base near Victorville, Calif.
More than 1,000 Marines from Battalion Landing Team 3/1's infantry companies and Light Armored Reconnaissance Company focused on realistic urban training to enhance their tactics and techniques in a three-block war scenario.
In addition, MEU Service Support Group 13 trained for possible peacekeeping missions by performing Humanitarian and Noncombatant Evacuation Operations.
Each company spent four days training in urban patrolling, riot control and security operations. Mission commanders and planning staff reacted to HAO and NEO missions similar to real-world operations in Bosnia and Somalia. Company commanders also had greater command and control responsibilities during the MOUT training.
The exercises were designed to give the companies as much command training as possible, said Maj. James McArthur, BLT operations officer. The only thing the battalion provided was the enemy situations.
"This was a great training opportunity," said Capt. D. Bowen Richwine Jr., commanding officer, L Company, "not only for my Marines, but for myself also.
"It gives me an opportunity to run different missions on my own," he added. "We always evaluate our younger Marines, but rarely evaluate our lieutenants and captains. And I think it is likely that we will see these situations again while we are deployed."
"The biggest thing the company commanders learned was how to make Marines continuously aware of the rules of engagement," Maj. McArthur said. "Even though the ROE stays the same, the situations change. One minute a Marine can be traveling in a convoy with civilians cheering on the side of the road. The next minute someone in the crowd fires a weapon, and suddenly the convoy has to protect itself."
The MOUT training facility, formerly known as George AFB, hosts numerous West Coast units to conduct training in a realistic urban setting.
This area was chosen to train in because it is the most likely environment the Marines will face while they are deployed, Maj. McArthur said.
It gives the Marines a realistic scenario of what is going on in the world today, said Cpl. Michael Nickles, mortarman, L Company. "We are practicing a lot of things that we don't normally get to do, such as setting up our mortars inside a city. This is the first chance we have had to do this."
It also provides a different training environment than what the Marines are used to, adding a little spice to their training regimen.
The MOUT facility's housing area forces the Marines to be more observant, said PFC Jacob Payne, chief of police actor. "The way these houses are set up, it helps the Marines get good training. They realize they have to be more aware of what is going on."
"Once you have trained at Camp Pendleton's MOUT facility a few times, you know it like the back of your hand," said LCpl. Jeffrey Floyd, mortarman, L Co. "There aren?t any surprises there any more."
Following this training, the BLT joined the rest of the of the 13th MEU, which had also been conducting urban exercises in Phoenix, for a two-week Comprehensive Training Underway Exercise aboard the USS Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group ? their first at-sea period during the six-month predeployment cycle.