MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- One hundred twenty-degrees of heat bore down on the ‘Lava Dogs’ as they coordinated with artillery, mortars and close-air support, maneuvering across approximately 50 kilometers of desert to reach their objective as part of Large Scale Exercise 15.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment participated in a live-fire and maneuver exercise in the vicinity of the Blacktop Training Area at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Aug. 15, 2015.
“We performed live-fire and maneuver, supporting the large scale exercise for [2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade],” said Capt. Mariano Alvarado, a company commander with the battalion. “We have to coordinate with artillery and mortars, while simulating the maneuver element that is attacking the objective.”
The ground maneuver element, consisting of fire support teams transported by Assault Amphibious Vehicles, was tasked with assaulting two objectives with support from artillery with 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Tank Battalion, mortars from 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, and close-air support from Marine Aircraft Group 29.
“It challenges our ability to synchronize our fire support teams and controlling fire as we move in on our objectives,” said Alvarado. “It’s pretty realistic training because we are using live artillery and mortars, so they have to be sure to cut off artillery at 800 meters and mortars at 400 meters to adjust to our troops as they would in a combat scenario.”
Communication served a vital role in the execution of the exercise as the ground element had to coordinate movement with fire support.
“There are a lot of moving pieces, with all the supporting agencies: Fixed wing aircraft, rotary aircraft, artillery, mortars and tanks,” said Sgt. John B. Black, a joint terminal attack controller with 1st Bn., 3rd Marines. “It was difficult battle-checking friendly forces, especially with the room for error with so many moving parts.”
LSE, held aboard the combat center annually, provides units with the physical dimensions required to train as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
“The LSE allows a Marine Air-Ground Task Force commander the ability to take everyone out to the field and give the friction of a live fight,” said Maj. Joshua E. Cavan, exercise design branch head, MAGTF Staff Training Program. “It’s an opportunity to deal with the challenges such as getting the headquarters set up and getting the Marines out in the field supplied with chow, water, fuel and everything they need to fight.”
Upon the elimination of the objectives, the raising of a white flag from the command vehicle marked the end of the exercise.
“The Marines have been performing outstanding out here throughout ITX and today was just another repetition,” said Alvarado.