FORT PICKETT, VA. --
Every day in Afghanistan, Marines patrol, conduct key leader engagements and capture insurgents using the intelligence gathered at those engagements.
Marines in America train in austere conditions to do that very thing.
Marines with Golf Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a raid on a military operations in urban terrain training site aboard Fort Pickett, Va., Dec 14, 2010.
The raid was part of a four-day evolution that involved raiding multiple towns, interacting with role-players and gathering intelligence.
“This is good, as a platoon commander, to get this type of experience,” said 2nd Lt. Will D. Slagle, a platoon commander and Nashville, Tenn., native with Golf Co. “Also, it’s good for the junior Marines, just trying to get them to recognize things that don’t look or feel right.”
In the hypothetical country of Orange, an insurgent group attempted to overthrow the government. The Marines of Golf Co. were there to protect American citizens and assist regaining order in the country.
After speaking to locals and gathering intelligence from previous raids, the commanders tasked the Marines to raid a small town where they suspected weapons and narcotics trafficking were taking place. The Marines acted quickly because they had limited time to plan.
“With quick planning, it allows you to think on your feet,” said Cpl. Luis R. Martinez, a squad leader and Odessa, Tx., native, with Golf Co. “It makes the small unit leadership grow and do their own thing.”
Marines loaded into trucks and dismounted a few kilometers away from the town. They patrolled in from four sides, surrounding the town.
As they began clearing buildings, opposing force role-players opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles while improvised explosive devices detonated along the outskirts of the town. Instructors marked Marines as dead or wounded creating more obstacles for the Marines.
The Marines cleared the buildings one-by-one and eliminated the hostile role-players.
While some role-players were hostile, others were simply locals caught in the crossfire. The Marines spent time talking with the non-hostiles, which helped the Marines find weapons caches.
“Having the role-players is really good,” said Martinez. “It’s good to interact with them, it gives you an idea of how they’ll react and what to expect.”
After completely clearing the town, the Marines patrolled back then returned to their company command post.
These types of raids are designed to help the Marines as they prepare for deployment with the MEU. Working with locals and reacting quickly to new intelligence is a large part of operating in any part of the world.
“This is good for our new guys because on a MEU we could go into Afghanistan or we could be afloat the whole time,” said Martinez.
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.