CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element recently honed its counterinsurgency capability, training for eight days at multiple facilities here July 18-25 and at times undergoing medical tests.
The three rifle companies, weapons company and artillery battery that make the bulk of Battalion Landing Team 3/1 trained separately for two-days at a time at different urban-like facilities, each populated by actors portraying people in a given foreign country.
While Weapons Company, Battery K and the battalion commander’s personal security detachment focused on convoy operations the first six days, Companies I, J and K ran a variety of passive to hostile scenarios.
After some scenarios, two platoons – whose Marines have, for several weeks, been practicing a new mindfulness-based mind fitness training regimen to manage combat stress – gave blood and saliva samples to be medically tested for stress-related hormone levels. During the scenarios, some also wore monitors that gave blood pressure, breathing and posture data in real time. Four platoons not practicing the mind fitness training were tested as a control group.
Mind Fitness Training Institute founder Elizabeth Stanley hopes the test results will show that those who practice her techniques – and learn to not internalize stress – will have improved mental acuity and stamina.
Some Marines acted as aggressors while others executing a scenario demonstrated a range of military operations, from making enemy contact, patrolling and clearing danger areas to engaging local populaces and fostering better relationships with the people.
“By acting as an opposing force toward the unit going through an exercise, we are able to provide better feedback and create a more realistic feeling for both sides,” said platoon sergeant Gunnery Sgt. Lewis Layton, who hails from New Port Richey, Fla. “The more realistic training is, the more prepared the Marines are going to be in the long run.”