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    Filling in the gaps: ‘America’s Battalion’ begins final pre-deployment training exercise

    Filling in the gaps: ‘America’s Battalion’ begins final pre-deployment training exercise

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Reece Lodder | Marines with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, hike toward Range 101 to conduct a...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Reece Lodder  

    Marine Corps Base Hawaii

    MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Six months ago, Marines with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, began their journey toward Afghanistan with pre-deployment training on-island in Hawaii.

    Now nearing the end of their training evolution, approximately 1,000 Marines from 3/3 traded Hawaii’s temperate breezes for California’s blistering heat, arriving here from Aug. 22 to 26, 2011, for the 35-day Enhanced Mojave Viper training exercise.

    Lt. Col. Matthew J. Palma, battalion commanding officer, 3/3, said the exercise will help the Marines of 3/3 expand their counterinsurgency mindsets — a necessity for the task they’ll take on in Afghanistan’s Helmand province this fall.

    While the battalion’s training in Hawaii focused on the battalion internally, Palma said EMV will allow them to combine with supporting arms, aviation and logistics units, and train to fight as a Marine Air Ground Task Force.

    As the battalion’s final evaluation before deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, it will push them beyond squad- and platoon-sized live-fire rehearsals to the company and battalion levels.

    Before beginning EMV’s arduous training schedule, each of 3/3’s companies built their baseline for the exercise by acclimatizing to the change in both pace and weather. They donned full gear and hiked approximately four miles from Camp Wilson to Range 101, where they each conducted a battle sight zero exercise.

    Capt. Jason Armas, company commanding officer, Weapons Company, 3/3, said the exercise’s events are stepping stones toward more advanced operations. Each has the purpose of building the Marines’ confidence in personal and unit skills.

    “This isn’t the time to be learning new things, but to establish a full mission rehearsal for Afghanistan,” Armas, from Rye, N.Y., said. “EMV will prepare us for any mission we’re tasked with in country.”

    Next week, the battalion’s companies will move from Camp Wilson to several forward operating bases, simulating the same conditions they’ll experience in Afghanistan.

    Though Hawaii’s training areas couldn’t support all of the battalion’s live-fire maneuvers, the companies will have the opportunity to spread out into the expansive training area.

    They’ll perform their training operations here within a large population of Afghan National Security Forces and local national role-players. This will teach them to partner with their Afghan counterparts and prepare for their mission — transitioning Afghanistan back to the ANSF.

    “After 10 years of counterinsurgency warfare, we’ve captured and documented so much information and worked this into the pre-deployment training instruction,” Palma, from Bristol, R.I., said.

    Employing assets like language training, improvised explosive device response procedures and investigations of insurgent operations will help deploying units to understand how to better tackle their task.

    With this knowledge at their fingertips, 3/3 will fill in the gaps from their prior pre-deployment training in Hawaii.

    “We only got to see a piece of the pie at Pohakuloa Training Area [on the Island of Hawaii] and at Defense Training Systems [counterinsurgency training exercise on Oahu],” Sgt. Nathan Mueller, a section leader with Weapons Co., 3/3, said. “Now that we’re at EMV, we get to see all of the pieces.”



    Date Taken: 08.28.2011
    Date Posted: 08.28.2011 04:35
    Story ID: 76068

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