FORT PICKETT, VA. --
Night movements are an inherently difficult task. Night vision equipment distorts a person’s depth perception and movement is conducted at a slower pace.
In training, Marines conduct night assaults with constant illumination using flares, but on a battlefield, illumination is rarely constant.
Marines with Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a night assault at the infantry platoon battle course aboard Fort Pickett, Va., Dec. 13, 2010.
The BLT recreated a combat environment by training with little to no illumination as they conducted the night assault.
“This gives them the familiarization of (night vision goggles) in an actual attack,” said Staff Sgt. March Kulvanish, a platoon sergeant and Seattle native with Fox Co. “It’s a good experience for them.”
As the sun set and the temperature dropped below freezing, the Marines prepared their equipment, assembled in tree lines and waited for their cue to move.
“The cold weather is simply a mind set,” said 1st Lt. Conner G. Gentil, the commanding officer of Fox Co. and Richmond, Va., native. “Properly geared up and with the proper inspections any Marine can be successful out here.”
The IPBC is a 2km-long range filled with bunkers, trenches and defilades, obstacles that can be dangerous without illumination to counter-act the limited depth perception of night vision equipment. The Marines moved quickly to their objectives just as they would during a daytime assault.
“The biggest challenge is bounding to the objectives,” said Lance Cpl. Richard R. Burke, a team leader and Vallejo, Calif., native with Fox Co. “You really can’t see anything.”
Exercises like these are an essential part of infantry units training since a high volume of operations are done at night.
“These Marines will own the night,” said Kulvanish. “A lot of our operations are done during the night. That’s when we catch those who emplace improvised explosive devices.”
The Marines of Fox Co. are preparing to deploy with the 22nd MEU. As a force in readiness, they can be called to any place in the world and to do any number of missions and they must be proficient on many levels.
“I’m very confident in these Marines,” said Kulvanish.
The BLT participated in a two-week training exercise at Ft. Pickett, Va., in preparation for their upcoming deployment with the 22nd MEU in 2011.
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are in the early stages of their pre-deployment training program, which is a series of progressively, more complex exercises designed to train and test the MEU's ability to operate as a cohesive and effective fighting force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission capable force comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its command element.
Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps' smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, commanded by a colonel and comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response capabilities in a hostile or crisis mission. While deployed, each MEU also incorporates two KC-130 aircraft available from the continental U.S. to support the unit's operations abroad.
There are seven U.S. Marine Expeditionary Units located around the world with one in Okinawa, Japan, and three on each continental coast of the United States.