MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – As the Marines of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, moved deeper into a mock town, they engaged with role-players acting as Afghan locals. During these scenarios, the Marines decided whether the role-players were friendly, or hostile.
The training allowed to get-hands on experience with working with the Afghan locals and familiarize them with detaining hostiles, said 1st Lt. Taylor Gillig, a platoon commander with Kilo Co. It also allows the Marine to practice setting up vehicle checkpoints and perform as a first responder team.
The Marines began with scenarios by setting up a vehicle checkpoint, and role-players began driving though.
“The VCP was great training because we never knew what the role-players had with them,” said Cpl. Josh Cervantes, a squad leader with the Kilo Co. “There were incidents where a farmer would be passing through going to the market, or a hostile target trying to attack.”
One role-player attacked the Marines with small-arms fire from atop a nearby building as they searched a vehicle. The Marines rushed to the attacker and detained him before he could harm anyone.
After they completed the first scenario, the Marines moved to an entry control point where they were tasked with protecting a role-player acting as an afghan police chief.
“We were guarding the entrance to the base where a police chief has been recruiting and training locals to fight insurgents, said Cervantes, 24, a native of Phoenix.
Most of the locals wanted to meet with the police chief and join their police force, but we still had to check them for weapons to ensure they wouldn’t harm anyone on the base.
“One thing I wanted my Marines to get out of this training in particular is to always search everyone because you never know who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Cervantes added.
The Marines concluded the training by responding to a scenario where an improvised explosive device detonated and injured two role-players.
A simulated IED exploded and the Marines rushed to the scene.
“That training was the most mentally straining because we had to patrol through other possible IEDs to save the lives of the guys who were injured,” Cervantes said. “The role-players were screaming for us to hurry, but we couldn’t just sprint through an IED lane.”
The Marines carried the wounded back the same path they used to get to the role-players and treated the casualties after removing them from the danger zone.
The Marines completed the scenarios and proved they could effectively work with Afghan local populist and accomplish their objectives, said Gillig, 24, from Santa Barbara, Calif.
“I’m incredibly proud of my guys,” said Gillig. “They completed every tasked asked of them, and I think they will do the same in Afghanistan.”
The Marines of 3rd Bn., 7th Marines, scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan and work hand-in-hand the Afghan National Security Forces and the local populist in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.