CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
It seems like a perfect job for the United States Marine Corps to storm a beach using Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), the Navy’s version of a hover craft, move a few miles inland and assault a safe house providing refuge for an improvised explosive device maker.
But to get it done perfectly takes practice and synchronizing a lot of moving parts. Perfecting these skills was the goal of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Combined Anti-Armor Team and Light Armored Vehicle Platoon during training January 7 – 11.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., is comprised of roughly 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is task organized to be a forward deployed quick response force, capable of accomplishing numerous missions around the globe.
Using Fire Base Gloria, a training site located near the Las Flores area of Camp Pendleton, the reinforced platoon, from Battalion Landing Team 2/5, set up a base of operations, command operation center and bivouac site. Once complete, the unit spent the first day going over a variety of classes ranging from combat first aid to requesting helicopter support.
After completing the classroom portion of the training, the Marines prepared for the practical application phase of training. Over the next four days the platoon would plan and execute three raids.
The first two types of simulated raids started with an isolated terrorist training camp then progressed to an amphibious landing using LCACs with an objective located inside a combat town training site. The final night of training concluded with a night raid in the heart of the 25-area combat town with a large number civilian role players mixed in with simulated insurgent actors.
The course reflected the Marine Corps’ training concept of “crawl-walk-run” to give Marines a chance to rehearse skills from low to high intensity before calling upon them to execute an actual combat raid, explained Sgt. Allen Johnson an instructor with Special Operations Training Group, which oversees the training.
“We teach (a skill) to them, allow them to practice, then they go on the mission and will have to do it. We’ll grade them, then go up to them and say this is what you did, this is how well you (did) it, this is what you messed up on and this is how you can improve,” added Johnson, a 24-year-old native of San Diego.
The course not only teaches Marines the skills needed to assault an objective, but allowed two units to mold into one and acquaint the new Marines to the techniques used to wage war.
According to Capt. John Gianopoulos, the company commander of the CAAT/LAR team, the platoon is learning real-world tactics from Marines who have served in actual combat missions similar to the training conducted.
During the course, many levels of command ranging, from the company commander to the newest private, learned skills to better enhance their war-fighting capabilities.
“We’re an extremely young company so (we got) a chance to come to the field where you have Marines getting familiar with their weapons, their vehicles and you have Marines getting familiar with something as complex as attacking an urban objective in the middle of the night,” said Gianopoulos, a 32-year-old native of Green, Maine.
Having returned from Ramadi in October 2007, the company is newly formed and still learning to work together, and the week-long course helps to build confidence in the younger Marines.
“While training, the company allowed the new Marines, fresh from the School of Infantry, to cross train with different weapon systems,” said Pfc. Matt Smith, an assaultman with Weapons, Company BLT 2/5.
“This helps my confidence, especially on machine guns and on clearing rooms because (the instructors and leaders) really emphasized it,” said Smith, a 19-year-old native of Bloomington Ill.
The 15th MEU is currently in its pre-deployment training phase for an impending summer deployment.