MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, used basic land navigation skills after a six mile hike at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, March 30, 2015.
Every Marine is taught the fundamentals of land navigation, becoming inherently proficient in finding direction, map reading and course plotting. At the most basic level, it is practiced during recruit training and expanded upon at the school of infantry.
“Every infantryman is going to be required to do some sort of land navigation at some point or another, whether it be a normal patrol, setting into an attack or an ambush, or setting up a defense,” said Sgt. Michael J. Hall, a platoon sergeant with Company G, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines.
The Marine Corps has used land navigation to get from point A to point B before modern technology introduced the Global Positioning System and other methods involving today’s electronics, proving vital to mission accomplishment.
However, even the most seasoned Marine needs to sustain their land navigational skills through rigorous training exercises.
“Land navigation is a huge perishable skill,” said Hall. “ A lot of Marines get the ‘check in the box’ when going through the School of Infantry or [Marine Combat Training], and next thing they know two years down the road, they’re set out on a land nav course, and they can’t even remember how to plot a grid, so this is going to reinforce their skills.”
The Marines were split into multiple fire teams and set out to find 10 land marks with a time limit of approximately 12 hours. The distance between each point ranged from two to six kilometers, in a woodland set environment.
“You really rely on the classes and things taught previous to us coming out here, and this is a test,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Oldham, a rifleman with the company. “You also rely on everything your squad leaders have taught you, and as a fire team leader, you just go out there and get the job done.”
Collectively working as a team, camaraderie is maintained throughout the exercise when overcoming obstacles. Covering such large distances, time management is critical to success, as well as communication between the Marines in each fire team, according to Hall.