NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY NORTHWEST ANNEX, Va. -- There is complete silence in the air in the seconds leading up to the loud pop emitted by a flash bang grenade dropped down a flight of stairs by a Marine. Suddenly, what looks like a chaotic scene to an outsider complete with shouts and rounds going off takes over as the Marines make their way down a tiny staircase, into a room where one of them fires a live round into a threatening target.
This has all been part of a training event set up for Marines with Alpha Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Company, Aug. 28 at a shoot house at Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex, Va.
The training required the Marines within the unit to use the tactics they had learned and teamwork to take over a simulated residential structure using both live rounds and flash bang grenades.
In the week leading up to the training, the Marines were given classes and conducted rehearsals preparing them for conducting the training with live rounds.
“Throughout the week, the Marines will be receiving classes on defensive positions, urban patrolling and isolating the objective,” said Sgt. Julian Paige, a close-quarters battle instructor with Marine Corps Security Forces Training Company and a Jacksonville, Fl., native. “Once they receive all of these skills, they apply everything they have learned.”
Due to the nature of this training, all of the Marines got their marksmanship skills tested on a range, according to Staff Sgt. Bradley Krueger, a close quarters battle team leader with the unit and native of Appleton, Wi.
“From day one we start evaluating the Marines marksmanship,” said Krueger. “Only the Marines who meet our qualification course of fire are allowed to have live rounds inside the house to shoot.”
For the majority of FAST Marines, it is their first time participating in an advanced urban combat training exercise, according to Krueger.
“This training gives them the basic tools they will need to know to accomplish the mission,” said Krueger. “From there, the platoon will develop their own personal techniques for what they are going to utilize.”
After a week of classes and rehearsals the Marines who qualified to carry live rounds entered the shoot house with their goal being to apply everything they learned as well as controlling the numerous types of targets.
“All of the students will have live rounds in both of their weapons systems (rifle and pistol),” said Krueger. “There will be targets on the walls that will act as a threat, non-threat, or even a threat controlling a hostage.”
For the Marines to succeed in the shoot house, teamwork was a critical part, according to Paige.
“Teamwork is a huge factor with this,” said Paige. “They must be able to communicate with each other and understand what everybody is going to be doing.”
For the Marines who participated, the exercise was highly beneficial, according to Lance Cpl. Thomas Allis, a squad leader with FAST.
“This training helped us on assisting us with our job and gives us a better understanding of the fundamentals,” said Allis. “It also really gave us a greater sense of camaraderie.”
In addition to feeling confident with themselves, the training also left the Marines comfortable with the abilities of those around them, according to Capt. Patrick Hassett, the platoon commander of Alpha FAST and native of Walkersville, Md.
“I am much more confident with our abilities as a unit and in myself as a shooter, live fire is always a confirmation of previously learned training, said Hassett. “I have seen significant improvements in the Marines. Live fire is always a confidence booster especially in a shoot house or close quarters environment. They have more confidence in themselves and the members of their fire team.”