News: 1/4 takes on the Combat Center
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Approximately 150 Marines with 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, arrived at the Combat Center to use the unique desert environment and training areas for their Tactical Small Unit Leaders Course Aug. 10 to Aug. 18, 2012.
The battalion, stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., returned from deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in June.
Following their deployment, 1/4 began preparations for TSULC. The goal is to train and develop their next group of Marines to be small unit leaders. The “China Marines” first sent a few Marines ahead of the rest of the group to become instructors for the course, allowing the experience of 1/4’s seasoned Marines to be passed down to their future leaders.
The students who attended TSULC were Marines identified by the command to have the experience and potential to become small unit leaders.
“The ultimate goal is building a very cohesive team and that will progress into the squad, platoon and company actions later on during deployment,” said Capt. Jonathan Joannides, infantry officer, Headquarters and Service Company. “When they rejoin the battalion they’re now set in full motion to start training their Marines on the skill sets we’re doing out here.”
The course developed the Marines into teachers, resetting some of their tactical and technical skills and teaching them how to evaluate the Marines they will soon be leading. They were reinforced in their basic fire team tactics and the tactical use of weapons systems and explosives.
The students conducted multiple dry-fire and live-fire exercises with the use of M-67 Fragmentation Grenades, AT-4 Missile Launchers, and M-203 Grenade Launchers in addition to the use of their personal weapons, such as the M-16 A4 or M-4 Service Rifle and the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
“They’ve been outstanding,” Joannides said. “They’ve been responding to the challenge that’s been issued to them.”
Students gained better proficiency with the weapons as well as understanding of how to train and evaluate proper technique.
“We get a better understanding and have a chance to re-learn some of the stuff we may have forgotten in order to be more efficient when we train our Marines,” said Lance Cpl. John Maschino, machine gunner, 1/4, and student of the course.
Once the individual work with the weapons was complete, Marines began incorporating the human factor.
The Marines moved toward their objective using buddy rushes, tactically using the terrain to move toward and take down the simulated enemy.
“The terrain and enemy really dictate (the Marines’ forward movement,” Joannides said.
The unit took full advantage of the Combat Center’s ranges; the open spaces, heat and desert landscape resemble the terrain in Afghanistan.
“It’s a good area to train in. It keeps them away from all the distractions and gives them a feel of what they would encounter going to Afghanistan,” said Cpl. Alex Wilkinson, assaultman, 1/4, and TSULC instructor. “They get all the heat and glorious misery. It gives them more of a real world take on it.”
All their work throughout the week led up to their final exercise Saturday. The cumulation of the skills they had practiced was evaluated in a live-fire attack of a bunker on Range 105.
Collaborating the use of their personal weapons as well as rocket and grenade launchers, with dummy or tracer rounds, simulated grenades and mechanical targets, the Marines worked together to take down the bunker as efficiently as possible.
“This is probably the best day I’ve seen,” said Cpl. Zachery Lum, range instructor, 1/4. “There have been some real improvements.”
Lum had a front row seat to the training the TSULC students had conducted throughout the week, seeing first hand their advancements through the course.
“It’s something else, seeing them take a whole bunch of individual skills and putting them together,” Lum continued. “They can work together and look pretty good doing it.”
With the completion of their test, the Marines began packing up to set out for their home base. Upon their return, the TSULC graduates will become responsible for Marines whom they will train as a tactically efficient team, as 1/4’s newest enlisted leaders.
“I look forward to teaching the New Marines exactly what I’ve learned here,” said Lance Cpl. Jacob Blair, machine gunner, 1/4.
Date Posted:08.25.2012 14:56
Location:TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA, US
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