ABOARD THE USS RUSHMORE -- ABOARD THE USS RUSHMORE (March 19, 2007) – Bounding through the concrete jungle in Range 131 Combat Town, Camp Pendleton, Marines from Lima Co., Battalion Landing Team 3/1, swiftly pushed their way through a mock insurgency until a heavily fortified apartment building stood between the Marines and success. Not to be pushed off a sensitive operational timeline, the company brass quietly reached down into a ‘notional’ bag of tricks and played their heavy metal card. Not an MP3 player, but the deadly pressure of the M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and Amphibious Assault Vehicles set in tactical cordon positions.
Needless to say, the timeline was kept without deviation.
The raid, reinforced with mechanized assets, was part of Joint Task Force Exercise, the third and final evaluation period for the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit as it makes ready for an upcoming Western Pacific Deployment.
While the company has become quite familiar with utilizing ‘mech’ assets throughout the work-up cycle, each training mission has been a stepping stone for this final evaluation. And such, on the ground at the raid site were evaluators working for Expeditionary Warfare and Special Operations Training Groups who were far from disappointed.
“I was very impressed,” said Capt. John M. Fennell, “mainly with the amount of communication between the platoons … and the situational awareness the tankers had on friendly positions far beyond gun range.”
Fennell, an evaluator in place for the exercise, said he hoped if he were in command of a similar unit he could achieve the same amount of readiness.
“This was so successful on the company level I could only really critique little things,” he said, “even then I have to dig.”
As the evaluators reported, the mission went well. More importantly, however, are the Marines “in the trenches” who battled role-players for more than two hours as they took the city. Squad and fire team leaders alike noted a vast spectrum of improvement throughout the training cycle up to this point, mainly with young Marines.
“On a scale of 10, I would rate this an eight,” said Cpl. Jacob Delagarza, acting squad leader with 1st plt., L Co.
“Last time we did this, you could see some of the fear in the younger guys,” he said, “this time they were going straight into buildings and clearing them quickly.”
Another point of successful consideration, said Delagarza, was communication among the platoons and Marines.
“Everyone knew what was going on, and we all worked together.”
With a deployment on the near horizon and the ships of Expeditionary Strike Group Five eager to set sail, mission success gives birth to a new confidence in Marines and families alike.
What for our Nation’s Foes?
For more information on the warriors of Lima Company, and the Fighting 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, visit the unit’s Web site at www.usmc.mil/13thmeu.