KAHUKU TRAINING AREA, OAHU, Hawaii --
The Marines and Sailors of Golf Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, kicked off their deployment a few days ahead of the rest of the 15th MEU, conducting patrolling training in the hills and jungle of Oahu Hawaii’s North Shore.
Golf Company, which arrived about a week ahead of the main body of the 15th MEU, refined their skills in jungle warfare with tactical movements and patrols through the dense forest and hills at the Army’s Kahuku Training Area of Oahu.
The training, designed to build on unit cohesion and teamwork, reinforced the essentials of surviving in the wilderness in a combat environment, according to Sgt. Ronnie Garcia, 3rd platoon guide, Golf Company.
“Patrolling is important in [combat environments]. We are building a key foundation of patrolling here in the jungle,” said Garcia. “You have to watch out for the guy behind you, the guy in front of you and yourself, and training here in Hawaii sets a solid foundation for patrolling in different environments. It makes us well rounded,” added Garcia, a native of Lubbock, Texas.
The training package also built upon the leadership abilities of Golf Company’s junior leaders, with much of the mission accomplishment dependent on squad and team leaders, said Garcia.
“Right now the reason why junior leadership is important is because we are running squad-size patrols out of here. All of the patrol routes, the checkpoints, the objectives and what we’re looking for are coming from the squad leader and below,” said Garcia. “It’s having eyes and ears in every aspect of the situation, so the more initiative the junior Marines take and the more leadership they develop, the more information we’re going to get and the better training we’re going to get out of environments like this,” Garcia added.
The Kahuku Training Area, with its high plateaus, steep hills and dense foliage, proved a challenge to the Marines and Sailors of Golf Company, who are used to the drier and more open training sites found on the mainland, according to1st Lt. Rishi Srinivasan, executive officer, Golf Company.
However, the training reinforced the need to prepare for possible future operations in environments not found in Camp Pendleton, said Srinivasan.
“Because we are a MEU, we don’t know where we’re going or what kind of missions we’ll have to deal with,” said Srinivasan. “We don’t know what kind of environment we’re going to go into what kind of missions we’re going to execute in real life, so we need a broad spectrum to tackle any contingency,” said Srinivasan, a native of San Francisco.
The jungle environment also sharpened basic patrolling skills, such as communication and noise and light discipline, which are common to any environment Marines may be called to operate in, said Srinivasan.
“The fundamentals are always the same when it comes to patrolling, and the more experience we have and different terrain we encounter, the better we’re going to be,” Srinivasan said. “Getting used to a different terrain, we’ll be able to apply that wherever we go,” said Srinivasan.
With the ongoing War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, urban warfare training is pushed to the forefront of pre-deployment preparation. For the Marines and Sailors of Golf Company, the training in Hawaii helped balance the operational capabilities of the 15th MEU and prepared them for any possible future operation, according to Staff Sgt. Sergio E. Orozcodiaz, 2nd platoon sergeant, Golf Company.
“We’ve been concentrating a lot on [Military Operations in Urban Terrain] in past deployments,” said Orozcodiaz. “A Marine is supposed to be able to fight in every type of environment, so the more we do this, the more ready we’ll be for different operations in different areas around the world,” added Orozcodiaz, a native of Santa Barbara, Calif.
The rugged terrain of the Kahuku Training Area also highlighted the need for frontline Marines to be able to make do with little or no contact with higher headquarters elements, according to Orozcodiaz. The isolated nature of jungle patrolling resembles similar situations found in real-world operations, Orozcodiaz added.
“Just like in [combat environments], platoons are patrolling on their own, they’re operating on their own away from the company,” said Orozcodiaz. “So the more we do it, the more we’re used to operating without much logistical support, the better off we’re going to be.”
For the Marines and Sailors of Golf Company, the training in Hawaii served as a measure of preparedness for the rest of the deployment, according to Sgt. Carlos E. Mendoza, squad leader, 2nd Platoon. The shared hardships and inherent teamwork of military operations will carry over throughout the deployment, added Mendoza.
“[This training] is good because we get to see where all the Marines are at and-especially at the beginning- we are continuing to develop that friendship and brotherhood between all the Marines,” said Mendoza, a native of Whittier, Calif.
“Going out and doing this first mission here in Hawaii is an excellent way to start the deployment,” said Mendoza. “It gets their mind right in the situation and what’s going on, and what to expect in the days to come so the Marines are always on top of their game.”
The Camp Pendleton, Calif. based 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is a forward deployed force of readiness capable of conducting numerous operations, such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance Operations and a wide range of amphibious missions. The 15th MEU is currently deployed aboard the USS PELELIU (LHA-5), USS DUBUQUE (LPD-8) and USS PEARL HARBOR (LSD-52).