Photo Information

A Marine with Company E, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, lies on the ground as he fires his weapon down range and communicates with his squad leader here March 27. During the rushes Marines found communicating difficult through hilly terrain and gun fire. The live fire exercises were part of a month-long exercise the Marines are conducting away from Camp Pendleton during their workups for their deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit later this year.

Photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac

Squad rushes take Marines to next level

28 Mar 2009 | Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, were brought back to infantry fundamentals by practicing live-fire squad rushes here March 27-28.

Company E conducted the training for an upcoming deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit later this year.

The rushes required Marines to run a distance, drop to their bellies, fire their weapons, and resume running.

Conducting the rushes challenged both the Marines’ abilities to work in unison as squads and their individual physical endurance.

The squads rushed through an area nearly one half-mile in length, scattered with several small hills and barbed wire for added challenges.

“The course is physically exhausting,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn M. Skaggs, 26, from Pilot Grove, Mo. “In combat, you have adrenaline and the will to survive to keep you going. In training, you don’t have that; you have to have that physical will to drive yourself.”

The hills posed visual and audible challenges.

“We’re so spread out, even if you scream off the top of your lungs, you probably won’t be heard with all the rounds going off,” said Lance Cpl. Ian H. Cole, 21, from Jacksonville, Fla.

For Pfc. John E. Hoban, using live rounds was an advantage to learning what happens within a squad during the exercises.

“When you train with the same people enough, you learn the patterns of how they shoot off bursts with their rifles,” said Hoban, 20, from Los Angeles. “If you can’t see them, you can still tell who’s around you and what they’re doing.”

Between the live rounds and terrain, Marines took notice of how similar the scenario mirrored combat situations in Afghanistan, where they may be deploying.

A trench at the end of the range served as the finish, another comparison to how insurgents currently fight.

“When people hide inside those canals … it turns into trench warfare,” said Skaggs. “You never know what’s going to come up. These Marines need to be training for everything, whether it’s jungle or desert.”

Much of the MEU is currently conducting an air-ground task force exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett and at other military and civilian installations around the state.

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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.

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