FIREBASE SAENZ, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
FIREBASE SAENZ, Helmand province, Afghanistan— “Reveille! Reveille! All sections report,” screeched from hand-held radios throughout the firebase. The Marines of Alpha Battery slowly roll over, reluctant to leave the tender warmth of their sleeping bag. Eventually, responses are echoed back one radio chirp at a time to the originator of the message, “Gun-One up,” “Motor-T up.”
The Marines begin their morning routine to prepare for the day. Showering, shaving, and the swift wisp of bristles across teeth is how most plan to start their day, but few incorporate stretching exercises in the routine at five o’clock. The Marines who follow up their personal hygiene with hamstring stretches and back extensions prepare their bodies for Marine Corps Martial Arts Training.
The battery’s two martial arts instructors host courses for all belt levels at various times during the day. They teach much more to their students than how to defend themselves and how to inflict pain onto their enemy. The instructors teach their students discipline, physical endurance, and mental character.
“We push [the Marines] to their limits,” said Staff Sgt. Joe Palacios, the battery operations chief and a MCMAP instructor-trainer.
He continued to say the training provided, though violent, is safe. It is not meant to hurt the Marines but to make them mentally and physically tough warriors.
Palacios said during these classes they tie in how a certain technique can be used while showing escalation of force and show of force while balancing ethically decision-making. He added it is their intent to make professional warriors.
Being a professional warrior goes beyond doing the right thing in a questionable situation—it also involves doing what is right to protect the legacy of those Marines who came before them, said Palacios.
“The number one goal for this program is not to upgrade Marines [in martial arts belts], but to understand legacy,” said Palacios.
“We do this to remember the legacy of those who come before us and hopefully one day someone will remember our legacy.”
Editor’s note: Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
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This work, Alpha Battery remembers legacy while strengthening mind, body, by SSgt Earnest J. Barnes, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.