MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Califronia -- Marines with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit began squad tactics and maneuver training aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 25, 2015.
Kilo Co.’s two-week-long training focused on enhancing their combat skills and learning to work as a cohesive unit in preparation for their upcoming deployment as part of the ground combat element for the 15th MEU.
“A lot of this is breaking down what we did last month in [Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms] and applying it to the squad level,” said Sgt. Juan Zamora, a squad leader with Kilo Co. “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on individual actions and team leaders taking charge of their Marines.”
The training began with securing an objective using machine gun and mortar fire as supporting elements.
“Once we were given our tasks, I met with my team leaders and gave them their orders,” said Zamora, 31, from McAllen, Texas. “From there it’s up to them how they prep their teams.”
All fire-team leaders take their tasks seriously. They know the success of the mission is dependent on each Marine doing his part.
“You hear it said a thousand times throughout your training ‘brilliance in the basics’,” said Lance Cpl. Alexander Dalziel, a fire team leader with Kilo Co. “It’s been drilled into me and I drill it into my Marines, because when [things get rough] I don’t ever want my Marines to rise up to the occasion; I want them to revert back to the basics.”
The Marines spent several hours rehearsing movements, immediate action and battle drills. These drills focus on a squad’s ability to respond to enemy contact and employ specific weapons, such as the M67 fragmentation grenade and the M136 AT4 rocket launcher.
After those hours of rehearsals and drills, the Marines geared up, loaded their weapons, and moved out to test their scheme of maneuvers.
“It’s always a little nerve-wracking before you step off,” said Dalziel, 21, from Germantown, Wisc. “I get the same feeling I used to get before a big game, but once you step off your training just takes over and you go to work.”
As Zamora’s squad made their way to their objective, safety officers painted scenarios for Zamora and his team leaders to battle through, such as enemy bunker positions, direction and rates of the simulated opposition’s fire.
“It makes it challenging, because it’s so loud and there is so much going on. You have to stay cool, work through the problem and direct your squad,” Zamora said.
Making the training as realistic as possible, Marines conducted the exercise using live rounds. Fire team leaders must ensure their team’s direction of fire is on point.
“It definitely adds to the stress, but we train how we fight,” Dalziel said.
Once the training was complete, platoon commanders debriefed their squads on the training, highlighting what they did well and how to improve on the next run.
“For the most part we did really well,” Zamora said. “We had really good communication, and our fire-team rushes looked great. You can tell the rehearsals paid off. There are always things we can improve on, but for the most part I feel confident my Marines can carry out anything we’re asked to do.”