News: Advisor Marines scratch beyond the surface
Story by Sgt. Marcy Sanchez
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A disturbance in the dirt, or an unusual reaction to a simple “Hello,” are signs Marines with Embedded Training Team, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment are looking for during a Combat Hunter course here, May 20.
The two-week course trains Marines to combine hunting and tracking skills, enabling them to anticipate danger and make quick decisions when fighting an insurgency.
“We’re trying to attack their strategy not their tactics,” said 1st Lt. Jack V. Somers, an advisor team leader with the ETT. “We’re looking to prevent that action, not just close in and destroy.”
The combat hunter program was developed by commanders in 2006 after an increase in enemy sniper attacks in Iraq. The course is a mixture of outdoor skills used by hunters and trackers with the street smarts developed by police and Marines who grew up in urban environments.
Although developed for Iraq, the course was modified to train Marines in situational awareness for Afghanistan.
“It’s two separate wars,” said Somers. “[The course] is preparing us for Afghanistan vice Iraq.”
To ensure Marines get a multitude of training scenarios, Combat Hunter is broken down to three different phases; enhanced observation, combat tracking and combat profiling.
Marines used equipment from rifle scopes, binoculars to naked eye observations for the course’s enhanced observation phase.
The observation exercises train students to determine types of actions insurgents will take before they are carried out, said Sgt. Joshua C. Arnett, Mobile Training Company, Mobilization Training Battalion.
Arnett said “We utilize role players to act out different scenarios and make it a little more realistic.”
Marines can be proactive with proper communication, before any event takes place, Arnett said.
Like a predator hunting its prey, the combat tracking portion of the course allowed Marines to identify disturbances in the land for clues as to what and when an enemy has been through an area.
The tracking portion allows Marines to identify dangerous locations before the enemy uses them against their advantage, Somers said.
“We train the students to find objects in the environment which may be concealing a bigger threat,” Arnett said.
As Marines familiarized themselves with signs of danger, they interacted with role players to read body language and other nonverbal communication in the combat profiling portion of the course.
The students watch body language to determine what type of action to take, Arnett said.
Literacy rates are low in Afghanistan. Only 28.1 percent of the population above the age of 15 can read and write according to the CIA’s website.
“Marines need to know how to read that nonverbal,” said Somers. “We’re not fighting somebody who necessarily reads or writes.”
For the final exercise, Marines were presented with several scenarios, from night exercises to close encounters, applying skills they developed to complete their mission.
“I absolutely recommend that more Marines go through this course,” Somers said. “They make it difficult. They challenge you, and don’t spoon feed you.”