TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- They are hiding, blended in amongst the locals. They are dangerous and deadly. They are watching every move, waiting for someone to make one simple mistake. They want to destroy people, and they will if someone isn't paying attention. Learn to think like the enemy. That is why Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group participated in Desert Scorpion here April 26.
Initially, the exercise was supposed to be a simple operation conducted from a combat operation center with a small number of Marines. They were here to serve as a response cell for the 1st Marine Division, but if they were going to the field, they were going all the way. Training their Marines is a priority.
"We had planned this mission on a short notice, about two weeks," said Gunnery Sgt. Jose S. Valerio, first sergeant, Headquarters Company, CLR-1, 1st MLG. "Just like war, we packed up and now we are here, anytime, anywhere, anyplace," said Valerio, 34, Dallas.
Inside the combat operation center, Marines learned newer programs that are currently used by deployed units to track movement and engagements.
"It keeps us aware of combat effects," said Cpl. Sherwin Pereira, range coach, Marksmanship Training Unit, Headquarters Company, CLR-1, 1st MLG. "We are able to know the amount of ammunition or fuel that is needed, as well as the need for a resupply," said Pereira, 21, Fairfield, Iowa.
Marines participated in weapons training after learning the significance of classified information in the COC. They conducted a combat marksmanship program to improve proficiency while firing in motion. This program is now required for all Marines who are deploying.
The Marines were not limited to just one course. They also had the opportunity to take a refresher course on the AT-4 disposable rocket launcher. Taking this course gives Marines the chance to learn the importance of shooting it correctly the first time due to its high-value and one-time use. The weapon is typically used to defeat armored vehicles, or destroy enemy positions.
"I can hardly remember the procedures of the AT-4," said Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Dykhuizen, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist, Headquarters Company, CLR-1, 1st MLG. "Another chance to familiarize myself with the weapon will be beneficial," said Dykhuizen, 23, Casper, Wyo.
Another important segment of training was convoy operations where the command stressed the tactics of combat. More than 100 simulated improvised explosive devices were signed out to the unit, to include suicide vests, roadside bombs and land mines. Exposing inexperienced Marines to total chaos when it is least expected provides the command with the advantage to observe the Marines' true reaction and give a better understanding of how they will perform in battle.
"We've been able to give them real training," said 2nd Lt. Julie A. Bratsburg, Headquarters Company, company commander, CLR 1, 1st MLG. "It was supposed to be small scernarios, but we turned it into life-like situations ... it turned out quite well," said the Bratsburg, 29, Bakersville, Calif.
Throughout the training the Marines stayed motivated, ready and willing to learn new things. They took advantage of everyday tools to create the combat atmosphere they were aiming for. What they take away from this training will have a direct impact on their individual performance during their deployment to Afghanistan early next year.
"This training is going to help them ... if it can happen, they will get it done," Valerio said.