Marine Corps Air Station Yuma


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Sand Sharks Bite into Pre-deployment Training


Story by Cpl. Reba James

Sand Sharks Bite into Pre-deployment Training MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. – Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 sharpened their security operation abilities during a four day pre-deployment security force training evolution that came to completion Wednesday at the Auxiliary Landing Field II, at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

The objective of the exercise encompassed instructing and advising Marines in the fundamentals of fixed site day and night security operations.

“Right now, we are putting down the foundation for future deployments and how to hold security (operations),” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Wood, an operations chief with MWSS-371, a native of Surprise Valley, California. “With local nations we want to be able to address possible threats, but treat the individuals with the dignity and respect they deserve until they prove otherwise.”

After a week-long classroom instruction on security forces operations, the exercise ended with practical application for Marines at the squadron level.

“The Marines get hands-on training and get to see how it is when we are in combat,” said Sgt. Jose Rivera, a motor transportation operator with MWSS-371. “It provides a good establishment for Marines to be able to think under pressure, utilize what they know, what they have been taught and put it to work.”

Marines provided support in different capacities such as perimeter security, convoy and quick reaction force operations, aviation ground support operations, entry control and vehicle control point security and foot and mobile patrols.

“So far, since we’ve been out here, we have stood post throughout the night, participated in the quick reaction force, gone outside (of the wire) and of course we have our relief time to get some sleep,” said Lance Cpl. Tasha Ricciardi, an MWSS-371 basic water technician and a native of Eauclaire, Wisconsin. “It’s mostly learning what to do in a detaining situation if they are coming in, and how to radio it in when we see suspicious activity.”

Other scenarios the Marines faced during the exercise included convoy attacks outside the perimeter which focused on improvised explosive device response and casualty evacuations.

“The purpose is to train Marines to the utmost ability for future operations and to be able to react quickly with a quick reaction force in-country,” said Rivera, a native of Ontario, Oregon. “Depending on the deployment, it could be combat convoys and operations or just supporting and defending an installation that has been established.”

No matter the scenario, realism and appropriate response to the situation is the objective. Marines faced a heavy dose of that realism during the fictional training crisis response, and were expected to react appropriately. Challenges included convoys running into IEDs and calling in casualty evacuations while on a vehicle patrol, a night time attack on the installation, and suspicious activity on the perimeter of the installation and flight line.

“I think this training is in-depth and realistic, such as calling in a 9-line casualty evacuation, waiting for that bird to come in and being able to egress the individual to safety,” said Rivera.

As far as IED scenarios go, Marines are able to identify them and get ahold of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team to look at the device and sweep for more threats, added Rivera.

The learning objective for the Marines is identifying little things out of the ordinary that could be the difference between life and death in a combat environment. Overturned dirt, wires sticking out of the ground, individuals digging holes and how to investigate are all part of the training curriculum.

At the close of the training evolution the Sand Sharks can now implement and use what they have learned during future deployments. More importantly, they can now better protect the Marines to their left and rights, ensuring they all come home safely.

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