TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA, UNITED STATES --
ITX is a month long combined arms exercise that trains Marines in such a way that they can seamlessly integrate with active duty Marines into a Marine Air Ground Task Force. This year, two infantry battalions, 2nd Bn., 24th Marines and 2nd Bn., 25th Marines each spent two weeks working up to a combined arms, live-fire attack at the battalion level.
The Marines rehearsed platoon attacks at Range 410 for a full day before moving to Range 410A and Range 400. Ranges 410A and 400 are unique in the close proximity of targets, obstacles to breach and the range of weapon assets offered to Marines who train there including mortars, rockets, and machine guns.
“Range 410A is one of the most notorious ranges in the Marine Corps,” said 2nd Lt. Joseph Zdeb, platoon commander of 1st Platoon, 2nd Bn., 24th Marines, “Your Marines are clearing trenches, shooting overhead fires and shooting within a 15 degree window of each other as they move. It’s a very high speed, exciting and extremely fast paced range.”
Sgt. Jacob Humiston, platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, 2nd Bn., 24th Marines, credits his squad and fire team leaders for the platoon’s success throughout the live-fire training event.
“The squad and team leaders are stepping up into new billets, but they’ve been doing a great job and taking charge of the Marines,” Humiston said. “One of the skills we practiced was clearing trenches. The team leaders and squad leaders guided those rehearsals.”
Lance Cpl. Caleb Schroeder, a rifleman with Echo Company, is confident in his platoon’s ability to move across the battlefield.
“We had a dry run last night and we already had the training, models, and maps,” Schroeder said during a cease fire while at Range 410A on Wednesday. “So we knew what we were going up against today.”
ITX allows Marines to maintain familiarity with basic military requirements. The realistic environment offered by the training areas at MCAGCC Twentynine Palms also gives Marines the opportunity to learn from the difficulties associated with operating in an austere environment. The Chicago based Marines had to quickly acclimatize to the 110 to 115 degree temperatures of the desert.
“It’s a miracle that we haven’t had an overabundance of heat injuries,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Miller, Sgt. Maj. of 4th Marine Division, MARFORRES. “That shows the success of small unit leadership.”