UDARI RANGE, Kuwait --
UDARI RANGE, Kuwait (June 4, 2007) – The triple-digit temperature scorches the earth as Marines’ heads bobble up and down on rough, sandy terrain in the back of a seven-ton troop transport vehicle. There is no mall to hang out at, or McDonalds to grab a bite to eat. In fact, from all that the eye can see, it seems as though civilization itself packed up and moved away.
This desolate realm is where Marines of India Co., 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines have been for the past week doing what Marines do most — training. Since disembarking from Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group ships May 25-28, Marines of Battalion Landing Team 3/1, and the rest of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, have been training at Camp Buehring’s Udari Range in preparation of future operations in Iraq.
“Training in Kuwait can be extremely helpful for us considering where we will be doing operations,” said Lance Cpl. Troy Yocum, 2nd platoon squad automatic weapon gunner. “It gives all of us the chance to train in conditions we will be faced with in Iraq.”
The Marines began their extensive training with a fundamental instilled in every Marine: combat marksmanship.
“The only way to find out what needs to be worked on with a Marines’ rifle or shooting technique is to send some rounds down range and then make adjustments after,” said Lance Cpl. Nathan Kerr, 2nd platoon rifleman. “It’s a valuable tool.”
The Marines of India Co. continued training with an abundance of classes ranging from first aid to improvised explosive device detection.
“A lot of knowledge has been given to Marines since we’ve been here,” said Yocum. “Especially for those who haven’t been to Iraq, the information can play a big part in getting our job done.”
Convoy training and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training are considered to be the most important elements of preparation due to the type of enemy Coalition Forces face in the Global War on Terrorism. India Co. has made sure all Marines in the company received plenty of training in both dimensions, with convoy and MOUT courses that tested Marines mentally and physically in the blazing early June Kuwaiti desert.
In Iraq, convoys are extremely vulnerable to Improvised Explosive Devices. The training Marines receive helps eliminate the threat with new ways to find IEDs or prevent them from going off.
Kerr said that as far as finding and disabling IEDs, Marines have become much better trained since the war first began.
Unlike many wars of the past, the enemy is not always as easy to find.
“We are literally taking this war to the enemy’s doorstep,” said Kerr. “We need to be able to seek out the enemy amongst innocent bystanders and eliminate threats.”
Marines train for complicated tactics using “MOUT towns” which are buildings made to resemble the urban terrain Marines face on today’s battlefield. Full protective gear and fluidly moving at high speed, Marines complete scenarios that use escalation of force and rules of engagement along with fire and maneuver tactics to eliminate the enemy.
All in all, most 3/1 Marines feel there is really no better place to be training to get a feel for what is to come.
“It’s all about having the advantage over the enemy to accomplish our mission,” said Kerr. “It’s about bringing back all our guys, safe and sound.”