News: Headquarters Marines establish and secure base during Desert Fire Exercise
Story by Sgt. Jacob Harrer
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – The Marines of Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division concluded a five-day training exercise here, May 10.
During Desert Fire Exercise, the support elements of the Division established a forward operating base with supply lines, a field mess, communications, an entry control point and a command operations center. The effort required a large convoy of dozens of vehicles to drive from Camp Pendleton to Twentynine Palms, hauling storage boxes, a forklift, and supplies to the training site.
The Marines also trained day and night and learned how to construct defensive positions, conduct security patrols, search and detain individuals, navigate, shoot targets at unknown distances, use night vision goggles, and communicate with the command operations center.
The training took support personnel out of their comfort zones and reoriented them with the skills they will need to deploy in the future, said 1st Sgt. Adam J. Carlson, the Headquarters and Service Company first sergeant with Headquarters Battalion.
Lt. Col. Thomas B. Savage, the Headquarters Battalion commanding officer, said his battalion must fill both support and security roles during a division deployment.
Savage emphasized the role of Headquarters Battalion during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. When the 1st Marine Division deployed and marched toward Baghdad, Headquarters Battalion not only supported combat units and maintained the command operations center, but also secured their positions. The headquarters Marines worked hard to do their primary jobs in addition to functioning as riflemen, manning security posts and patrolling.
Desert Fire Exercise not only reoriented support personnel to basic rifleman skills common to each Marine, but also built confidence by allowing junior Marines to take on leadership roles and spend time with their peers, added Carlson. The training also strengthened cohesion between the Marines because they had to to work together to accomplish routine tasks in the field, including troop movements and managing equipment.
“From the moment they hit the grinder at Camp Margarita, small unit leadership kicks in,” Carlson said. “The unit leaders are being held accountable for accountability of everybody, to include their gear and serialized weapons… that’s how unit cohesion is developed.”
Over the course of five days, the Marines passed information more quickly between their instructors and the rest of the squad so that everybody was kept well-informed throughout the event.
Non-commissioned officers exercised more responsibility by directing junior Marines to clean the area, move equipment, and prepare their gear for training events.
Camaraderie between the Marines had grown tighter after only two days together, said Lance Cpl. Paul C. Bacus, a legal service specialist with Headquarters and Service Company, Headquarters Bn., 1st Marine Division.
Bacus, made many friends with Marines he had not seen before in the company. Additionally, he learned new skills to improve his leadership, such as responding to an attack by issuing a fire command. He wants to be prepared for any war or conflict that might arise.
“I enjoy being out here and doing training to better myself,” Bacus added. “I enjoy bettering my fundamental Marine skills.”