Every Marine rifleman: 2nd MLG Marines, sailors train for deployment
By Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie
| | May 21, 2014
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
What started as a peaceful humanitarian operation rapidly deteriorated into a chaotic street battle minutes after the Marines arrived in the village to deliver humanitarian supplies. The Marines established a cache of food to support the village and shortly after they attempted to stop locals from raiding the cache, shots rang out.
The Marines scattered to cover. They returned fire and managed to disperse enemy fighters in a matter of seconds. As a lull in the fighting came, the sound of gunfire was replaced by cries of pain and “Corpsman!”
Fortunately, the engagement was only a training scenario for Marines with 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and sailors with 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd MLG at the infantry immersion trainer here, May 14.
The service members spent approximately two weeks preparing for their training at the IIT, which closely resembles deployed environments they may encounter.
The service members prepared themselves for the immersion training with more than two hours of training each day leading up to the final exam. They completed classes on patrolling, communicating by radio, combat lifesaving techniques and cultural awareness to hone operational readiness.
“Our scenario was humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, something that every Marine in 2nd MLG should be prepared to participate in,” said 1st Lt. Owen Trotman, the executive officer of Supply Company, 2nd Supply Battalion. “Over the past ten years, units within 2nd MLG have sent augments of every [military specialty] to deploy in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe. Marines need to be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice and utilizing the IIT is a great tool for leaders to keep their Marines prepared.”
At the outset of the training, the Marines entered a large open building filled with dirt streets, clay buildings, the clutter and smell of a lived-in village, and a number of role players portraying locals. Translators assisted the Marines as they moved into the village. Even a reporter and camera crew drew them into the scenario by asking questions and following the Marines throughout the exercise.
For more than two hours, three squads of Marines took turns filling into the trainer, where they reacted to villagers stealing food and, eventually, hostile contact with lurking enemy forces seeking to capitalize on the confusion.
“[The IIT] was basically a refresher, but it was definitely more detailed, and I learned a lot of things I never really thought about,” said Lance Cpl. Landon Reichmann, a warehouse clerk with Bulk Fuel Company, 2nd Supply Battalion. “The fact that this is not a uniformed enemy and you can’t really tell who’s a good guy and who is a bad guy because they all dress similarly makes it more difficult. I just had to keep my head on a swivel.”
As the squads swept the town for the enemy and missing supplies, the Marines contended with upset locals and continued media coverage adding constant distraction to the mission. The service members also called in casualty evacuation requests for the injured as they fell back on skills they learned throughout their Marine Corps training.
“The IIT was a great culminating event where all those skills were put to the test in realistic, intense, fast-paced and dynamic scenarios,” said Trotman, a Chesapeake, Va., native. “Every single Marine wanted to take their training to the next level and enhance their individual skills. As a lieutenant trying to train Marines to their fullest potential and set them up for success downrange, I couldn’t ask for more. I think this experience has opened up a lot of eyes to the potential threats that exist throughout the world and the difficulties that the Marines will eventually face as they go forward.”
In the end, the Marines did not receive grades for their performance. Evaluation was left to the command’s discretion to examine unit performance. For individual Marines and sailors, however, the personal takeaway was a glimpse of the real-life chaos they may face at any time.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be in combat,” said Reichmann, a De Soto, Mo., native, “but I have a good idea of how to react when things go wrong. I thought this was just going to be another field op. I was not expecting this.”