Marines practice security and stability operations

12 Mar 2004 | Cpl. Matthew S. Richards 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participated in Security and Stability Operations (SASO) here, March 8-12.

The Marines absorbed classes and training in everything from urban patrolling, setting up a forward operating base, convoy operations and mounted patrols to vehicle checkpoint operations.

The training involved many jobs the Marines did in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom but with a different twist.

“We were knocking down the door in OIF but now we’re learning to knock on the door in SASO,” said Lance Cpl. James T. Jenkins, a squad leader in 1st Platoon, Company C, BLT 1/4.

The Marines learned new SASO aspects like apologizing for inconveniences after a vehicle or personnel search or keeping a watchful eye out for improvised explosive devices.

The battalion is scheduled to deploy with the 11th MEU this June and is gearing up in case they’re tagged for urban operations.

“The whole battalion is trying to prepare for another deployment similar to OIF where the focus is not combat but finishing the job we started,” said 2nd Lt. Jeremy T. Sellars, assault platoon commander, Co. C. “We want to win the hearts and minds of the people.”

While a stop in Iraq has not been confirmed for the 11th MEU’s deployment, the SASO training was meant for the squad leaders and individual Marines to feel confident if they are deployed to that location.

“We want the individual Marine to think for himself and respond immediately,” Sellars said. “Their leaders can’t always be there with them.”

Sellars also added that squads and fire teams are gaining experience and trust in their abilities from this training.

“We want the smaller unit to act,” he said. “As long as the individual is not thinking he’s just a robot Marine, the better he’ll handle a situation.”

Floods of Marines poured out of the convoys in one particular exercise, reacting to a single sniper played by another Marine in the bushes. In another exercise, Marines learned how to watch the streets they are patrolling for IEDs painted to blend in with the brown blocks of clay and stone.

Sellars said the newer Marines “might be itchy on the trigger” and may employ more force than “they needed to use.” SASO training is the Corps’ way of preventing that.
The battalion is thick with veterans of OIF, and that experience is trickled down to the Marines fresh from the School of Infantry.

“This is most of the stuff we did in Iraq, and the (younger Marines) should be fine because they can feed off our experience,” said Lance Cpl. Jose E. Tena, an assault man with Weapons Plt., Co. C.

The SASO training seemed to instill confidence in one Marine who joined the unit in late January, Pvt. Markus R. Dale.

“It’s good to feel how to operate in this environment,” said Dale, a radio operator with 1st Plt. Co. C. “I’m learning how to do my job and what’s going to be ahead of me.”

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

Read Biography

Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

Read Biography

Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Read Biography