MARINE AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, California --
Marines from Japan, Hawaii and every corner of the United States have spent countless, draining hours in the extreme conditions of the Mojave Desert for the culminating event of Integrated Training Exercise 2-15, the Battalion Assault Course.
Marines from multiple units conducted back-to-back courses involving every element of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force 9-13 Feb. at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, for ITX 2-15.
“The BAC ties into the integration of force, utilizing the MAGTF as a whole,” said Capt. Brian D. Green, the Company C commanding officer with 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Marines with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force and 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force are in infantry battalions, both of which are part of the ground combat element for Special Purpose Marine-Air Ground Task Force Four during ITX 2-15.
“During the BAC we integrate the air combat element, the ground combat element and the logistics combat element, of the MAGTF, against an enemy to achieve that combined arms effect,” said Green, a Vero Beach, Florida, native. “The command element is what makes that possible.”
The command element for SP-MAGTF-4 is 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“Integrating all of the elements requires a great amount of coordination, and command and control,” said Green. “That’s where the BAC flexes this muscle to its greatest extent. Our goal is to properly and successfully integrate the GCE units, logistics units and air elements.”
The BAC consists of multiple objectives, according to Green. Company C, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines was inserted deep into enemy terrain to seize a mountain pass to secure the flank of the battalion as they pushed north against the main objective.
“After the rest of the ground elements assault the objectives, with aerial support, the Marines will set into a defense to prepare for an enemy counter-attack,” said Green. “The significance of the defense is to allow us to constitute ourselves, refit ourselves and put ourselves into a position of advantage to retake the offense, ultimately to counter attack the counter-attack.”
The BAC provides a great opportunity for Headquarters Company, 4th Marines, stationed in Okinawa, Japan, to train, as the SP-MAGTF-4 command element, with an organic unit from 4th Marines.
“This is the first time 4th Marines Headquarters has been to the United States in over 60 years,” said Chief Warrant Officer Four Craig E. Marshall, the regimental gunner, and Kansas City, Missouri, native. “1st Battalion, 4th Marines is one of the original battalions from 4th Marines.”
1st Battalion, 4th Marines and 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines are scheduled for a unit deployment program this summer for six months to operate under 4th Marines Headquarters Company.
Throughout ITX 2-15, Marines have executed different training events to prepare for the BAC.
“We’ve done multiple live fire ranges,” said Cpl. Richard J. Wills, a platoon sergeant with Company C, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. “We started off at the platoon level and built our way up to the company level before this.”
After the company level ranges the infantry battalions participated in the Aerial Assault Course to hone their skills in different methods of insertion, according to Wills, a Florence, Kentucky native.
“It’s challenging, but each day we learn something new, and it presents a new challenge to us,” said Wills. “It makes you sit down and reanalyze situations, evaluate what you have to do and where your strengths and weaknesses and how to exploit them.”
Green and Wills agreed that one of the most important parts of this training is allowing Marines to get better at what they do.
“I hope my Marines learn how to execute different things at once, and to adjust to them on the fly,” said Wills.
The Marines assaulted objectives they had never seen before, giving it a real-world effect, according to Green.
“Sometimes we’re given a short window of opportunity to exploit something before we move into another mission,” said Wills. “My Marines have to be on top of their game or we will have mission failure.”
The BAC is designed to push the battalions to their limits, hit a culminating point where they are not able to successfully advance any further, forcing them to go static, according to Green.
“Leading Marines is a humbling experience,” said Wills, a corporal filling a sergeant’s billet. “Marine corporals can do anything. We step in there to fill the job. Other Marines need you to do it.”