MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Dozens of vehicles and hundreds of Marines set out on a rigorous nine-day exercise, pushing their mental and physical capabilities. For some Marines, it was their first exercise, for others, it was just another day in Marine Corps.<br /> <br /> Throughout their training evolution, known as the Battalion Support Area, Marines with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Amphibian Assault Battalion, completed numerous tasks each day aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. They fired several weapons systems including light anti-armor weapons, machine guns and threw grenades.<br /> <br /> The training evaluated Marines on weapons techniques and prepared them for team and squad level live-fire tactics. They rehearsed the drills with empty magazines to practice techniques before firing live ammunition. It is important for Marines to conduct live-fire training so they can simulate a combat environment, said Lance Cpl. Michael O’Brien, an assault amphibious vehicle mechanic with the company. <br /> <br /> “We can only get so far with a dry run,” said O’Brien, a native of North Reading, Mass. “Even with blanks, it’s not enough, we have to have those battlefield sounds. It makes everyone have to shout, because on the battlefield, it’s going to be even louder.”<br /> <br /> The Marines encompassed several annual requirements along with exercise, said Master Sgt. Frank Edling, company operations chief. They started out qualifying the Marines in the gas chamber and then moved on to the combat marksmanship program. They conducted counter improvised explosive device training and live fire maneuvers while wearing Flack jackets, Kevlar helmets and a pack weighing more than 60 pounds.<br /> <br /> “Being able to get through those nine days, showed the Marines that they excelled,” Edling said. “They got out of their comfort zone and did a tremendous job.”<br /> <br /> Fighting fatigue was also a part of the training. They slept few hours each night and moved throughout the day, carrying rocket systems and machine guns. They fought their exhaustion with the help of their noncommissioned officers, who were beside the junior Marines motivating them to continue.<br /> <br /> “The way junior Marines get through it is because their NCOs are right there with them doing the same thing they’re doing,” said Edling, a native of Shell Knob, Mo. “They’re setting the example, and everything that’s asked of the junior Marines, they’re doing it with them. That’s how they get by. It’s a collective effort. “<br /> <br /> When the training was over, the Marines consolidated for one last night in the field. They gathered under a large camouflage tent to celebrate their warrior night with hot food on their plates and a smile on their faces. The company commander congratulated them for exceeding his expectations. When the night came to an end, they stood at attention and sang a chorus of the Marines’ Hymn. They will use what they learned from the exercise as a building block for future exercises and continue to hone their capabilities for overseas operations.