Photo Information

Corporal Russell Robertson, a squad leader assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, extends the antenna for his radio operator during the 1st Marine Division Super Squad Competition aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 30, 2015. The Marines and Sailors tested their abilities to conduct infantry operations for the title of super squad.

Photo by Cpl. William Perkins

1st Marine Division holds the first super squad competition in 15 years

8 Jul 2015 | Cpl. William Perkins The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines and Sailors from across the 1st Marine Division came together for the Division’s Super Squad Competition aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 30, 2015.

One squad from nine battalions was selected to represent their unit to compete head-to-head in the 36-hour event.

“It’s a competition to highlight the best squads in the Division, between 1st Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Regiment, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion,” said Master Sgt. Charles Vasseur, the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the 1st Marine Division schools.

The squads underwent a nonstop, grueling test of endurance, occupational intelligence and cohesion to prove they had what it takes to claim the title of super squad.

“The Marines started off with a gear inspection, went immediately into a combat fitness test then directly did a 100-question written test which covered basic infantry skills,” said Vasseur. “Afterward, they were issued their operation order for a patrol to conduct daylight patrolling.”

The patrol took place in the Juliet Training Area aboard Camp Pendleton where the Marines and sailors were required to navigate through harsh terrain to locate six checkpoints and call for fire from notional supporting assets such as mortars.

The Marines seemed to never stop moving, coming straight out of the patrol, they shifted into a defensive posture for the next portion of the competition.

“They set into the defense, got attacked and the next day started a timed nine-mile movement to Range 408,” explained Vasseur. “They conducted a live-fire attack and moved into another three-mile movement completing an unknown distance range as a marksmanship test for the last part of the competition.”

The competition has been placed on hold for the last 15 years due to the division’s high operational tempo during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, received the coveted trophy.

“Once all of the scores were tallied the winning squad received the Mitchell Cup, named after the Navy Cross recipient from the Battle of Fallujah, Cpl. Robert Mitchell,” said Vasseur.

The Marines also received more than the trophy to display their pride.

“The squad was awarded the super squad badge,” stated Vasseur. “They will wear it for the rest of their career.”

At the end of the day, it’s not about winning the badge or the trophy for the Marines.

“It’s about highlighting the small unit leadership,” about identifying how effectively the squad leader can lead his Marines and the team leaders can control their fire teams,” Vasseur said. “When the Marines leave here, they’re going to have a wonderful understanding of leadership, planning and the importance of that competitive spirit. We wanted to establish that esprit de corps.”

Major Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, spoke to the Marines during the award ceremony.

“Congratulations to each and every one of you,” said Nicholson as he addressed the Marines and Sailors. “We’re only going to decorate only one squad today but all of you answered the challenge and I’m proud of every single one of you.”

After the ceremony the Marines all returned to their respectable units after the competition with something to hold onto.