Camp Pendleton, Calif. --
When individuals hear the word hiking, they think of it as a time to leisurely explore different terrains. They think of walking up big hills and mountains at their own pace.
In the Marine Corps, hiking is one of the foundations of Marine combat conditioning. From the beginning of Marine Corps recruit training, individuals are exposed to hiking and are continuously conditioning themselves for longer and more strenuous hikes.
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit uses this basic concept to maintain their mission readiness. On Sept. 27, the 11th MEU participated in a 10-mile hike.
Hikes are something that the 11th MEU is very familiar with. The goal for them is to participate in a hike once a month. With each passing month the hikes will have different elements to simulate different scenarios that Marines could face while in a combat environment.
The last hike the MEU did was eight miles in distance. They carried approximately 35 pounds of gear while wearing body armor without sapi plates. This time, the 10-mile hike had Marines wearing body armor with sapi plates, magazines, drop pouch and an IFAK. They also carried an assault pack containing the necessary items for the hike.
“We do these hikes to keep Marines conditioned and ready for any mission that is given,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Lindvall, the 11th MEU fires chief and range safety officer for the evolution. “I think the condition of the MEU as a whole is good, however we do these events to make us better.”
The quick pace and grueling, unpredictable trail made the hike seem endless, but Marines maintained their bearing and eventually got through the hike.
Marines finally reached the finishing point of the hike. Faces filled with relief as they quickly rehydrated themselves. Laughter and smiles were put to rest as they proceeded to the next portion of their training.
The MEU put on their full body armor as they prepared to participate in a table three shoot.
Table three is also a training exercise that Marines have participated in since Marine Combat Training.
“We had a table three shoot after the hike to simulate a patrol with combat involved and to add in another training aspect to it,” said Lindvall. “Train like we fight.”
After a long day of training the commanding officer and sergeant major gave some words of encouragement to their fellow Marines and commended them for a job well-done. Then they boarded the buses and headed back to headquarters.