News: Dragon Fire 12 extinguished, CLC-36 comes home
Story by Pfc. Nicholas Rhoades
IWAKUNI, Japan - Combat Logistics Company 36 Marines returned home from Exercise Dragon Fire 12 at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Japan, July 26, 2012. Dragon Fire is an annual exercise which focuses on maintaining CLC-36 Marines’ combat effectiveness and readiness.
“For many of our Marines, this was their first field experience since [Marine Combat Training] and the perspective of those Marines now, versus what they observed as a student, is vastly different,” said Capt. Charles R. Johnston, CLC-36 executive officer.
With Dragon Fire as the only stand-alone exercise CLC-36 conducts, it allows for a complete mission plan tailored to what will help all Marines, from the commanding officer to the most junior Marine, learn to operate as a unit.
“Ultimately, CLC-36 was able to deploy itself to CATC Camp Fuji, execute the training schedule as planned and retrograde back to MCAS Iwakuni without incident,” said Johnston. “No plan survives first contact with the enemy. And although we had to adjust to adequately meet the challenges we faced, we were able to do so while learning more efficient and effective ways to handle these situations in the future.”
Weather and safety assurance stood among the most prominent challenges CLC-36 faced during the exercise.
“Even when environmental conditions were less than ideal, the Marines made sure they maintained their focus on training and mission accomplishment,” said Johnston.
He then continued discussing the motivation and dedication these Marines showed when putting rounds down range.
“When you are firing as many rounds as we did and are doing M249 and M240 barrel changes every 200 rounds, those barrels start to heat up,” said Johnston. “When that happens, even though you are wearing gloves, you are going to feel a bit of discomfort as you quickly move to get that weapon back up so it can provide suppressive fire as the Marines to your left conduct a frontal assault on the enemy. However, I never saw any hesitation or reservation from any Marine to do what they needed to do in that situation. I did see many Marines who came back for more and took full advantage of the crew-served weapons shooting we were conducting and that speaks volumes about the mindset of the Marines.”
The CLC-36 Marines trained for three weeks and completed weapons training for the shotgun, pistol, M16A4, along with a variety of automatic weaponry.
“I was able to learn a lot about different weapons systems and the tactics we use on a daily basis out in combat environments,” said Lance Cpl. Zachery C. Vanderford, a CLC-36 supply administration and operation specialist.
By the time CLC-36 completed Dragon Fire, the Marines had received and carried out multiple orders executed along established timelines and proficiently handled multiple weapons systems during classes and live fire. They also convoyed across Japan for a period of two days on two occasions, along with constant leadership training.
“In the end, the Marines were able to take advantage of the training and everyone was able to increase their individual proficiency levels,” said Johnston.