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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
Marines conduct cliff assault training

By Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos | | September 5, 2014

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Marine Corps training has evolved throughout the Corps’ existence. Mountain warfare training began because of lessons learned from Marines in the Korean War. What started as cold weather training in mountainous terrain has changed into mental and physical preparations for operations in adverse areas.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment continued Mountain Exercise 2014 with cliff assault training aboard Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Sept. 1, 2014.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment will become the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element in October.

Mountain Exercise 2014 develops critical skills the battalion will need during deployment.

Specifically, the training ensures the Marines are prepared for mountainous terrain if the need arises while deployed with the 15th MEU next year.

“This training is all about being prepared,” said Sgt. Luis A. Gonzalez, a squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Lima Company, 3/1 and a native of Escondido, Calif.. “The Marines get a feel for what it’s like working with one another, stay current on their [infantry] skills. It’s beneficial for me, because I get to see how my squad operates, where everyone is at, and what I need to do to make them better, all while learning new skills in a new environment.”

Having spent the previous days training with rappel assaults, the Marines had a solid base of knowledge on scaling down a cliff. This time they would scale up a cliff; a task that is physically demanding and mentally taxing.

“You go into it a lot more confident,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew B. Mercado, an infantry rifleman with 2nd Platoon, Lima Company, who is from Bridgewater, N.H.. “But it’s more challenging. You’re trying to make it up the side of this cliff with all your gear, trying to move fast, but at the same time being careful. The hard part comes when you come to a point when there’s no ledge or footing. You can’t just stay there; you have to find a way up. It’s almost like a puzzle.”

This puzzle can have serious repercussions if a wrong move is made. To ensure success, Marines learned how to use safety lines and how to properly traverse these seemingly impossible cliffs.

“We taught them everything they need to know and they’ve responded well to the trainings,” said Staff Sgt. David K. Mwaura, a unit training instructor with Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, who is from Austell, Ga. “For the most part, it’s been a lot of small unit leadership. The [noncommissioned officers] take the lead and make sure their Marines are applying everything we’ve taught them.”

As the day’s training came to a close, squad leaders gathered their Marines and reiterated the importance of the day’s training and how it will come to play in there coming deployment with the 15th MEU.

“We don’t know where we’ll be, or what we’ll be asked to do,” Gonzalez said. “Training like this is going to help us be successful with anything they ask us to do.”


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