CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
As hills towered over the undisturbed buildings of Combat Town 25, a distant rumble could be heard disrupting the stillness just over the horizon. A pair of MV-22B Osprey broke the ridgeline sending a trail of dust in their wake. Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, lined the interior waiting for their chance to storm off the tiltrotor aircraft to hit the objective. Their months of previous training prepared them for the next 75 minutes.
The heli-born assault was the first portion of the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation held at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Sept. 22-27, 2014. The evaluation is one of the final tests to assess the operational capabilities of infantry battalions slated to deploy.
The MCCRE is designed to evaluate their ability to perform their assigned jobs and tasks as a unit. From the Marines conducting the raids and setting defensive postures to the Marines in support of the infantry, such as the logistical elements of an operational regiment, each section is thoroughly evaluated to ensure every Marine is ready to deploy.
“As an infantry unit, there are a lot of wrinkles to be smoothed out when Marines come straight from the School of Infantry before heading out on a deployment,” said Lance Cpl. Corey Dahmen, a fire team leader with Company L, 3rd Bn., 1st Marines.
Over the last couple of ranges and exercises, such as a recent monthlong exercise in Bridgeport, the junior Marines have been pushed to ensure they are ready to be placed in any stressful combat situation.
“As an infantry company, we’ve seen a lot of improvement in the abilities of the junior Marines over the past couple of months leading into this [evaluation],” said Dahmen.
The MCCRE presented obstacles demanding the Marines to adapt and overcome. They made their way across several miles of mountains, set defensive positions against enemy attacks and spent entire nights observing the darkness, looking for their opportunity to engage enemy targets.
“It’s an endurance test,” said Lance Cpl. Grant Baker, a rifleman with the company. “It’s not just hiking all night to provide security for another company. It’s staying awake during those long nights and still managing to dig fighting holes the next day.”
By the end of the evaluation, the Marines of the battalion had endured many hardships, but still accomplished the tasks required of them.
Whether their military occupational specialty involves boots on the ground, taking the fight to the enemy or transporting Marines to an objective, the MCCRE reminds the Marines of those core missions they’re sent to complete.