CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines with Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group spent three days conducting extensive training exercises at a Military Operations in Urban Terrain site aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 8-10.
Noncommissioned officers with the company took the opportunity to train their subordinates in classroom and hands-on combat operations based on their own experiences.
According to the field exercise commander, Cpl. David Veneziani, the corporals in the company received guidance to train the younger Marines in combat operations. Beyond that guidance, they were given free reign over how, when and where they wanted to do it.
The result of the NCO brainstorm was the three-day exercise, beginning at a training site where long periods of classroom instruction were given. The Marines slept outdoors, then woke up early to hike to their next site.
“It was 5.9 miles out here and now they’re just getting sped up on dynamic entries and dismounted patrols through urban terrain,” said Veneziani. “What we are going to do next is send them through a brief, give them a scenario and let them punch out as squads to complete the mission. This will go into tonight, give them some nighttime operations … to make it as realistic as possible.”
Veneziani and the other instructors had high expectations for the Marines. They expected them to complete their mission based on the two days of knowledge and tactics they covered.
“I’m going to expect them to know their [casualty evacuation procedures] and to work as a team, taking the periods of instruction they learned in day one and two and putting it in a cumulative event,” stated Veneziani.
He elaborated on the importance of all the aspects of the training, beyond just learning the combat tactics.
“The junior Marines are in fire team leader positions right now,” Veneziani continued. “Just because they aren’t in that position at their shop doesn’t mean they won’t be put into that position. They need to know how to take care of their Marines, how to keep accountability of stuff, and how to carry themselves, not just in a tactical scenario but as an NCO. I want them to be striving to be that next pay grade.”
The training served to give the Marines who hadn’t deployed a brief sense of what it might be like. They learned what the future would hold for them in their career as they moved up in ranks and also as deployment opportunities arose.
“Something like this would’ve helped me early on in my career,” Veneziani said. “I’ve been at Bridge Co. for four years and this is the first time I’ve ever been given the opportunity to utilize any of the training areas out here. This is huge for this company and these platoons because I don’t know if and when they’ll get the opportunity to come out here again.”
One of only two staff NCO’s involved with the training exercise described why the combat operation training was essential to combat engineers.
“We have a lot of deployments where a lot of our Marines get pulled to other regiments and other battalions,” explained Staff Sgt. Philip Thornton, the maintenance chief for Bridge Co., 8th ESB. “It’s better to give them a little heads up, a little hands-on training before they get stuck in the real scenario. Instead of learning out there, they can learn it here.”
With the implementation of combat scenarios, leadership skills, team-work exercises and everything else that comes with the field environment, the Marines with Bridge Co. seemed to value and appreciate the rare opportunity they were given to train at MOUT town.
“It’s going well, even though the Marines are hot and tired and it’s only going to get worse as the day progresses,” Veneziani concluded. “They’re going to get wet because it’s going to start raining. We slept outside with the bugs last night and the mosquitos were hungry. But, they’re learning and they’re invested.”