CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait --
Split second decisions made in combat can be the difference between life and death.
In an effort to sharpen their decision making abilities and improve reaction time, a detachment of Marines and sailors from Marine Air Control Group 38 attended tactical, shoot and don’t shoot training at the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 here Jan. 12.
MACG-38 is attached to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 (REIN), Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego. HMM-166 (REIN) serves as the aviation combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The EST is an indoor simulated marksmanship training tool that replicates the look and feel of a real rifle and tracks the trajectory of fired rounds with computer sensors. The computer keeps track of where the shooter hits and how many times.
The MEU Marines and sailors faced multiple decision-making scenarios common to today’s military. The trainer forced the shooters to make split-decisions during room clearing, hostile protests, entry control point engagements and cordon and searches.
“The main purpose of the EST is to work on engagement skills,” Staff Sgt. David Robinson, an infantryman and EST instructor with 1st Army, 72nd Field Artillery, 5th Brigade. “It teaches guys when to escalate force and how to react to being fired upon.”
Sgt. Mario Perez, a field radio operator with HMM-166 (REIN), 11th MEU, said that practicing escalation of force and rules of engagement is invaluable.
“When Marines get into theater, it’s training like this that let’s us act without hesitation,” said Perez. In a real-world scenario, hesitation can cause death, he said.
Another strong point of the EST is that the diversity keeps the shooters from becoming complacent and creates muscle memory, something that might save a life in combat, said Robinson. “If they find themselves in one of the scenarios they have practiced, they will know what to do.”