QUANTICO, Va. - “As the squad leader, the pressure is on me to make sure that everyone makes it back alive,” said 2nd Lt. Ulysses Sosa, 1st squad, 5th platoon, Charlie Company.
Marines with Charlie Company, The Basic School, underwent their first live-fire field exercise in squad tactics at Range 5, May 16.
As the squad leader, Sosa is tasked with developing a scheme of maneuver to close within and destroy the enemy using superior fire power. To help him achieve his mission, he must properly utilize his fire team leaders.
To add to the pressure of completing the mission, Sosa’s performance as a squad leader was evaluated on leadership, which ultimately accounts for 50 percent of his overall performance grade at TBS.
“His execution of this exercise can literally effect which [military occupation specialty] he gets,” said Capt. Jennifer Kukla, a combat instructor with TBS.
“We’re building a foundation that [students] can build off,” Kukla said. “With emphasis on the role of the squad leader utilizing his subordinate units to attain a common goal.”
Using intelligence available to him, Sosa developed a terrain model to scale and began to lay out his plans.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Sosa said. “I’ve never done this sort of thing before joining the Corps. The use of live-fire makes it more real, but it’s exciting at the same time.
After briefing the squad, it was time for Sosa to ensure his Marines knew the plan to heart by doing dry-fire practice runs.
“The plan of attack won’t work if everyone’s not on the same page,” Solo said. “There are going to be mortars going off, machine guns firing and M203 grenades popping off. With all the noise and rounds going downrange, I’m not going to be able to shout orders across to my fire team leaders. So I have to make sure they understand what I need from them.”
“Communication is something every squad leader struggles with, whether it be communicating a five-paragraph order or trying to get fire support,” Kukla said. “It’s important for each of them to learn how to overcome that but utilizing those subordinate unit leaders.”
Charlie Company has 16 weeks left in their 26-week training schedule, giving them plenty of opportunities to mature into leaders of Marines.