News: 1/7 repels enemy assault at Lava Training Area
Story by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Infantrymen waited patiently inside CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53E Super Sea Stallion helicopters as they were transported to a landing zone near their first objective. Each Marine sitting side-by-side with full combat loads knew what to expect for the next three days.
For one of the final events of their Integrated Training Exercise, the Marines of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, participated in a three-day battalion assault course at Lava Training Area here, Feb. 3 to Feb. 5.
The company was inserted into a deserted and barren area of the Combat Center. The infantrymen provided security for the helicopters immediately after landing until they flew away and were left to complete their mission.
Marines moved tactically uphill across two kilometers of rough terrain, mostly through valleys, to avoid ridgelines and remain constantly concealed as they assaulted their first objective.
“Making our way to our first objective was difficult,” said Lance Cpl. Mohaamed Cherair, a fire team leader with Bravo Co. “As a fire team leader it is my job to keep my Marines motivated. I pushed my fire team to move toward our objective when they began to get tired.”
The first objective was to eliminate an enemy platoon that had dug fighting positions in the hills. The Marines utilized terrain to their advantage to bring a barrage of fire on the enemy positions. One platoon established cover fire while a second platoon closed in and destroyed the enemy.
Following the assault, the company established defensive positions within the training area as the sun set. Riflemen dug skirmisher holes, shallow positions that allow a Marine to be level with terrain while lying in the prone position, while mortarmen and machine gunners dug positions to contain their weapon systems. The Marines worked tirelessly as they provided constant security from their positions for the following 36 hours.
“Defense is currently a strong component in the Marine Corps,” said 1st Lt. Walter Mack, the executive officer of Bravo Co. “Currently, one of the primary missions for Marines in Afghanistan is forward operating base security.”
Although the Marines attacked and repelled an enemy force during their initial movement the day prior, the enemy came back seeking vengeance under the concealment of night. The Marines were tired from the two days of continuous training, but stayed alert as they laid motionless in their positions.
“It’s very challenging to keep constant security while in the defense,” said Cherair, a native of Springfield, Pa. “You have to stay on your toes and have the right mental attitude to protect the Marines to the right and left of you at all times.”
A white star cluster, a luminescent round, lit the training area and notified the Marines of the oncoming threat and the area immediately erupted with gunfire. Neon red tracer rounds exploded from machine guns and zoomed into the horizon as they destroyed distant targets while mortarmen fired 60 mm high explosive rounds with precision from the darkness of their positions. A green star cluster burst into the sky minutes later to signal the enemy was within range of rifles and automatic weapons to fire. Riflemen with night vision devices zeroed in and engaged their targets.
“We received intelligence that enemy forces were coming our way,” said Lance Cpl. Jordan Cook, a fire team leader and a native of Godfrey, Ill. “We all laid behind our weapons in our fighting holes ready to engage the enemy. Once they came within range, each Marine started firing within their pre assigned sectors of fire.”
The Marines ceased fire after the enemy force retreated once again. Then at first light, the company abandoned their positions to pursue a counterattack and put an end to the enemy force.
“The Marines were definitely tested by the battalion assault course,” said Mack, a native of New York City. “It was a rapid sequence of events and the transition component was probably most difficult for them. Going from an attack, establishing a defense and then proceeding to do a counterattack definitely pushed them to their limits and boundaries.”
Yet again the Marines fired and maneuvered across kilometers of rough terrain, to conduct one final attack to conclude the three-day exercise. Platoons, squads and fire teams coordinated their fire and movements and ultimately eliminated the enemy force. Shortly after, the company extracted from the training area the same way they arrived, by helicopters.
With the BAC successfully completed, the company still has counterinsurgency training left before they finish ITX. ITX is a 30-day training evolution to prepare battalions for their upcoming combat deployments. For 1st Bn., 7th Marines, it is their final predeployment training evolution before they deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Date Posted:02.12.2014 16:21
Location:MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA, US
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