On the road again: 8th ESB Marines simulate convoy operations
By Cpl. Paul S. Martinez, II Marine Expeditionary Force
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina --
Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion honed their capabilities as motor vehicle operators during a day of simulated convoy operations at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 9.
Marines are able to participate in a fully-digitized convoy simulation that allows them to drive a Humvee or a seven-ton in a deployed environment, whilst using the same hands-on tools they would normally have. All of these training capabilities are made possible through the facilities at the Training Support Division simulation center.
“We’re here to direct a convoy through a foreign city,” said Cpl. Craig Rylan, a motor vehicle operator with the unit. “The focus is definitely on teaching our younger Marines. We as noncommissioned officers have to handle the convoy a very specific way, from communications to immediate action and situation handling.”
The facility allows groups of vehicle operators to split up into different rooms, wherein they appear in the same convoy through the electronic system. Each vehicle is able to communicate via radio and relay all the necessary information to safely make it to their destination.
“The main thing they will take away is the realization that different kinds of situations can arise fast,” said Staff Sgt. Drew Munier, the operations chief for motor transport section. “They need to be able to think on their feet and make sure the right thing is done at all times.”
Marines fulfilled standard motor transport roles as a driver, vehicle commander or vehicle gunner, with each requiring heightened awareness, attention to detail and communication.
“Communication and keeping convoy integrity is very important,” Rylan said. “It’s paramount in everything during the convoy. Those involved need to be on the lookout for the enemy or any suspicious activity.”
The simulation challenges Marines with abrupt hazards intended to reflect the real-life methods of disrupting a convoy, such as the detonation of an improvised explosive device on the road or small-arms fire coming from any direction. Gunners utilized training versions of the M2 .50 caliber machine gun or Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher to respond to their opposing force.
Following the completion of the convoy, all participants and those that observed the convoy in the command operations center gathered for a debrief to assess their performance, with each taking note of what will be expected of them during their next training session.
“We try to come to the convoy simulator as much as possible because this is how we operate overseas,” Munier said. “We want to make sure we learn from any mistakes here before we go forward.”