By Lance Cpl. Eric Tso, III Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii --
U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment conducted combined anti-armor team mounted patrols during Exercise Bougainville I at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, March 15, 2018.
The Marines dealt with simulated improvised explosive devices and ambushes throughout the patrols and were put through a scenario where a simulated IED went off, taking out a Humvee and causing a simulated casualty.
“We definitely kept [the IED] a secret from them, they didn’t expect it,” said 1st Lt. Shane Wescott, a platoon commander with 1st Bn., 3d Marines. “When we got that first initial hit, they jumped out of the vehicles, posted up security and did the best that they could in order to react to that situation.”
The training event is a continuation of Exercise Bougainville I since its start at the beginning of the month. This exercise is an opportunity for Marines to conduct small unit level training to prepare for Exercise Bougainville II and future deployments.
“After an IED blast, there’s usually an ambush so we take action based on what happens,” said Lance Cpl. Spencer Burkman, a native of Dayton, Ohio and an anti-tank missilemen with Weapons Co. “The biggest thing to do is to provide security and make sure there’s no ambush. If there is, we can take out the threat, get the vehicle out of the area and return home safely with everybody.”
The Marines are occupying a simulated Forward Operations Base on MCTAB for the week long training event. The location challenges CAAT, which is designed for anti-armor in a large open environment, allowing them to conduct their training in realistic environments such as jungle and urban terrain.
“It’s all going to be situationally dependent,” said Wescott, a native of North Andover, Massachusetts. “We have to change up a lot of things to adjust to a more jungle environment. Dismounting more Marines, changing the way we return fire, changing the way that we react to close and far ambushes, essentially adjusting everything that we have learned and adjust them to that more confined jungle environment that we’re dealing with.”