“Lone Star” battalion maintains readiness during annual training
By Cpl. John McCall
| 4th Marine Division | June 10, 2014
FORT POLK, Lousiana --
The trait of being always ready has been a part of the Marine Corps’ ethos for more than 238 years. 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment held true to this standard during their annual training here, June 1 – 11.
23rd Marine Regiment
4th Marine Division
live-fire range annual training
Marine Forces Reserve
In order to maintain their readiness, 1/23 took part in numerous field exercises specific to each job skill. These exercises included: weapons training, grenade qualification, gas chamber, demolition, and live-fire ranges.
“It helps us stay proficient with our weapon systems,” said PFC Cody L. Cummings, a machine gunner from Maud, Texas. “Any problems that we run into can be addressed here so that in a real-life scenario, we’ll know what to do.”
After completing multiple live-fire ranges, each company participated in coordinated platoon-sized attacks. Each squad played a key role in assaulting mock enemy objectives.
“We have to be proficient in our job so that the whole unit can be successful,” said Lance Cpl. Eduardo Castellanos, a machine gunner from San Antonio. “Without good suppressing fire from machine guns, the company’s rifle squads can’t maneuver safely to their objective.”
As a Reserve unit, 1/23 typically meets one weekend a month and only two full weeks a year. Even though these Marines take advantage of the time they are given on drill weekends, there is only so much that can be done in a two-day period. The importance and value of annual training cannot be overstated, especially since this opportunity only presents itself once a year.
“We don’t always get to put as many rounds down range as we do [at AT], which is why we have to make the best of it,” said Cpl. Alexander Gil, a section leader with Company A. “You have to train like you fight and for us it’s even more important because we don’t do this every day.”
With a combat deployment to Afghanistan under his belt, Gil knows firsthand how important training like this can be.
“I try to give as much guidance as I can to ensure the Marines under me are confident and ready to go at a moment’s notice,” Gil, a native of Houston, explained. “When they do deploy, they’re going to be attached to different units and I won’t be there to guide them. They need to be the expert at their job and perform when it really counts.”
More often than not a Marine Corps Reserve unit does not deploy as a whole. Instead, it is divided into smaller detachments to fill gaps within the active duty component and facilitate the employment of the total force.