TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Marines with Company B, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, participated in a hasty-platoon-attack exercise at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center range here, June 18. Range 410A, the box canyon where the training took place, is part of Integrated Training Exercise 4-13, a cornerstone of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Training Program as the largest annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve training exercise.
The main purpose of maneuvering on Range 410A is to give Marines experience working together as a platoon-sized element in extreme combat situations. Each platoon had a chance to go through the range and show their ability to work as a team maneuvering through obstacles and ultimately engaging various targets. Each squad was assigned to a different objective that required not only teamwork, but leadership as well.
“This range allows for integration of supporting arms during a platoon-sized attack,” said Capt. Robert Gill, a platoon commander with Co. B, and a native of Bloomington, Ind. “We utilize it as a test to see where we are at as a platoon. It helps a lot with our small-unit leaders, since they need to be able to step up and take the initiative during a dangerous exercise like this.”
During this live-fire exercise and in combat, each Marine has a specific job that helps their platoon work efficiently, but they must all be able to assume various roles if need be.
“We train to a point where we can easily understand each other’s job,” said Cpl. Barrett Stubbs, a rifleman with Co. B, and a native of Terre Haute, Ind. “If something happens to me the mission will still go on because I know that the Marine behind me can take my place without hesitation.”
Since Co. B is based out of Indiana, most Marines have never been exposed to desert operations; they have had to adjust to the different obstacles that come from the environment.
“The hills, the heat, the whole environment helps make the training extremely realistic,” said Lance Cpl. Tanner Babb, a machine gunner with Co. B, and native of Evansville, Ind. “A lot of these live fire ranges are only available here. We would never have the opportunity to do something like this on a drill weekend.”
Even though this particular unit is not slated to deploy, they understand how training like range 410A can mirror the type of warfare seen in combat zones.
“This training is as real as it gets,” said Lance Cpl. Steven Shambaugh, a rifleman with Co. B, and a native of Fort Wayne, Ind. “We’ve done plenty of live ranges before, but being in this environment brings a lot of new challenges along with it. This type of landscape is exactly what deployed Marines are dealing with everyday. I can’t think of anywhere else that comes close to simulating the same kinds of conditions.”
Beside the austere living conditions and desert heat, Marines must compete with the stress that comes along with a high-intensity range like 410A. One of the unique elements offered is the ability to fire live rounds over the heads of teammates on the ground.
“The ability to understand the physical and mental stress is something that I think every Marine should take away from this range,” said Cpl. Mike Palmer, a squad leader with Co. B, and native of Oakwood, Ill. It is as close as you can get to combat conditions. No matter how tired and fatigued you are, you have to continue on and complete the mission because you have other people counting on you.”
The lessons learned from range 410A will help Co. B Marines be more successful as they finish up the rest of their training evolutions for ITX 4-13.