MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- During an urban patrol, Marines come under fire from snipers on the rooftops and various machine guns throughout the city block. A quick reaction has everyone behind cover, but the Marines cannot stay there for long, they must get inside a building and find the enemy. The only way in is with a shotgun blast to the bolt, blasting the door inward with Marines in the squad following closely behind. Because of the quick reaction from the combat engineer, using his shotgun, the patrol is safe and able to locate the enemy from behind cover. Taking out the enemy and persevering for another day.
Although this specific situation is a scenario, the stories from Fallujah and other various urban conflicts throughout our nation’s history remain the same. Sometimes you just have to get inside of a building. And that is where the combat engineers help out. They blast or beat their way into a building, so that the Marines can successfully accomplish their mission.
Combat engineers with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, participated in mechanical and ballistic breaching at Engineer Training Area 1 at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 10 and 12, 2015.
“Breaching is gaining access quickly to rooms that need to be cleared,” said Cpl. Derek Michael, a combat engineer with 8th ESB.
Engineers learn that breaching is a more conventional type of warfare that may be used in different situations to include gaining quick entry or hostage rescues and recovery.
“Hostage situations would be ideal for utilizing breaching techniques,” said Michael, a native of Butler, Pennsylvania. “Breaching techniques emphasize the importance of entering a room with emphasis creating chaos for the adversary.”
Engineers first learn the fundamentals of mechanical breaching, involving certain tools such as a battering ram, for a quick entry, or the hooligan tool, to prop open a jammed door.
“For the new guys participating in their first field op since the schoolhouse, this was their first real time working together as a team,” said Michael. “The fleet is different from the school house for the new guys since our training goes more in depth. This really opens their eyes as they learn and execute breaching techniques.”
The ballistic breaching portion started out with firing rounds straight downrange in preparation for breaching doors afterwards.
“I’ve never [fired] a shotgun before,” said Pfc. David Green, a combat engineer with the unit. “I was nervous at first, but after the first couple shots I eased into it.”
During the training at ETA-1, the new Marines were able to find out what worked best for them in order to safely accomplish the breaching objective.
“In the schoolhouse, you receive constant hands-on assistance. Here in the fleet, the corporal or sergeant in charge takes a step back and lets the junior Marines figure it out themselves while observing,” said Green, a native of Huntsville, Alabama. “I get a lot out of this training since I am actively participating as opposed to a classroom environment where we are constantly evaluated on paper.”
Marines with 8th ESB are ready and willing to use this training whenever called upon.
“When I get deployed to a combat zone, I want the unit I’m attached to have a sense of security when I’m breaching doors and clearing the way for the Marines to enter safely and accomplish their mission,” said Green.