MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
In recent years, Marines have trained exclusively for Iraq or Afghanistan operations. But when Marines attach to a Marine expeditionary unit, they have to prepare for anything, anywhere.
“From what I hear, at a MEU, anything can happen,” said Pfc. Freddie Calonge, 20, and a Delano, Calif., native.
Calonge, and others serving with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit's ground-combat element, participated in raid training at Firebase Gloria here Feb. 2-6. He said this training is one important step for readying an expeditionary force.
The raid training, orchestrated by I Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group, prepared the Marines for the MEU’s upcoming deployment later this year.
Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, reinforced with assets from Company A, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn. - learned how they will serve in overall missions that include land, sea and air elements working together on operations.
Marines and sailors loaded Humvees and light-armored vehicles onto air-cushioned landing crafts that brought the raid force to shore.
For most of the Marines, it was their first time riding on these naval landing crafts. Most pre-deployment training in recent years has focused on ground operations and has not required amphibious practice.
“It’s important to practice with the (landing crafts) to see if the whole unit can be mobile when we get on the ships,” said Calonge. “If not, well, that’s what the training is for.”
The raids required Marines to move in and out of areas in short amounts of time, forcing teams to make quick actions and on-the-spot thinking to carry out missions.
“It puts a great amount of responsibility on our small-unit leadership,” said 1st Sgt. Felix D. Acosta, Weapons Co. first sergeant. “It’s not the same mundane patrolling these guys are used to."
The Marines learned proper sensitive site exploitation, which consists of gathering intelligence immediately after capturing a site. Part of this procedure involves Marines videotaping or drawing floor plans of buildings and marking locations of objects and people. Accumulating this type of information helps Marines learn more about their enemies.
“This helped me realized how much (of our intelligence) relies on the information we get,” said Pfc. Thomas X. Gray, 18, and a Highland Mills, N.Y., native “I’m sure there’s a lot of details Marines might notice in a raid but won't really think (it has) any importance.”
With the intelligence gathered before an operation, Marines spend preparation time creating terrain models so everyone can physically see and understand their individual roles during the raids.
Free time was spent practicing how each team would clear buildings housing enemy fighters, a skill most infantry Marines have down to an art. Practice, however, helped everyone prepare for their raids.
“It's real good to get them in the combat mindset,” said Lance Cpl. Rueben J. Sosa, 22, and a Loving, N.M., native. “You can never have too much training.”