MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A fireteam of four Marines quickly and aggressively crosses a street toward a building, while the remainder of their 13-man squad suppresses the enemy positioned on the second floor.
A fireteam of four Marines quickly and aggressively crosses a street toward a building, while the remainder of their 13-man squad suppresses the enemy positioned on the second floor.
One Marine screamed “frag out!”, as he threw a training grenade into the building to breach the entrance. As the grenade exploded and the fireteam stormed the building, there was an eruption of fire and explosions from simulated weapons and grenades. A team leader yelled “support up!”, triggering another fireteam to enter the building. As the smoke cleared, it was apparent the ground floor was secure, but the squad still had enemies on the second floor.
Clearing the building were Marines of 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, while they were conducting military operations in urban terrain training here, Sept. 26.
The training is part of their ongoing preparation for deployment with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit next year.
“One of the types of threats Marines face today is combat in urban environments,” said Gunnery Sgt. Tommy Lee Hamilton, company gunnery sergeant of Charlie Co., “An urban environment is dangerous. What makes it dangerous is the dark, shadowy places where the enemy can hide or lay traps, and the enemy knows where you are, while he is fortified and hidden.”
The squad leaders of Charlie Co. were chosen to teach the course because of their experience from prior deployments. They taught their peers and junior Marines the challenges they faced while deployed. Instructors participated in the training as the mock enemy and showed the Marines what they could face during combat.
“The enemy doesn’t usually run across the street and point a weapon at us,” said Cpl. Saul Perez, a squad leader serving with Charlie Co., “They hid inside houses and fired when we had our backs turned.”
Perez emphasized to his Marines that having 360-degrees security, aggression, and good communication are the keys to surviving in an urban environment.
“If you are watching everything around you and something looks out of place, let the Marines to the left and right of you know,” said Perez, a 22-year-old native of Ukiah, Calif. “I will never fault a Marine if he is wrong and calls out a danger zone.”
Squad leaders encouraged the aggression their Marines showed when they stormed into a building, yelling commands and firing their weapons.
“The aggressor wins the battle 90 percent of the time,” Hamilton said. “If the Marines move fast and aggressively, the enemy will think more about his egress route than employing his weapon system on them.”
Each squad moved from one building to another, suppressing the enemy while isolating the building they were attacking.
Once the fireteams secured the perimeter around the building, they moved in to breach. They always cleared the first floor with ease, but the stairwell is where it became challenging.
Most fireteams stacked inside the stairwell making themselves easy targets for the enemy, but one fireteam had no plans of getting caught on the stairwell.
“I grabbed the Marine to my left and told him we are getting up those stairs,” said Pfc. Joshua Lichty, a machinegunner serving with Charlie Co. “Then we just rushed up the stairs and started firing at the enemy.”
Lichty, a 22-year-old-native of Traverse City, Mich., led the way as his squad took the fight to the enemy.
Lichty’s fireteam rushed up the stairwell evading rounds and grenades as they closed in on the enemy.
They reached the top of the stairwell. They checked every corner as they secured the top floor, and found the enemy peeking through holes in the wall. A firefight ensued within moments, and as the uproar died down and the smoke began to clear, the Marines emerged from the building victorious.
“It startled me to see them rush up the stairs with their weapons up,” said Perez. “They got us good.”
Perez said he was proud of his Marines, and he can’t wait to see them perform again next week during further training to prepare for their deployment with the MEU.
The 13th MEU is one of seven Marine Expeditionary Units in the Marine Corps. The mission of the MEU is to provide geographical combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious assaults in severe conditions.