MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines with 3rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, completed a one-month-long training exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Calif. Sept. 21, 2015.
“Since the Marines have been out here, they have encompassed a wide variety of training including a post-blast analysis, cache scenarios, dismounted and mounted [improvised explosive device] scenarios, along with a [Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel] scenario,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Drew B. Jordan, platoon commander, 3rd EOD, 9th ESB. “We also performed a [Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive] event encompassing a platoon-level exercise where EOD technicians identified, [decontaminated,] and disposed of chemical munitions.”
Throughout the exercise, 3rd EOD utilized Ranges 051, 112, and 114, and Emerson Lake and Quackenbush training areas. The Marines of 9th ESB took advantage of the desert terrain and vast area of the Combat Center to meet training needs.
“The terrain at the Combat Center is something we don’t get a chance to utilize in Japan and we are trying to take advantage of everything we can while we’re out here,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua K. Crabtree, EOD technician, 3rd EOD, 9th ESB. “Being able to operate in this terrain is extremely beneficial to us because it gives us another medium to train in than a jungle environment.”
According to Crabtree, the training aboard the Combat Center is vital in preparing for real-world scenarios the unit might encounter in a deployed environment.
“This training is by far one of the most important things we can do while operating at the Combat Center,” Crabtree said. “The mountainous terrain has a lot of choke point areas we can utilize and a sandy environment similar to the Middle East. It’s definitely advantageous for our development.”
Major goals of the exercise included giving the Marines exposure to a different environment and experience with a wider variety of ordnance.
“Since the EOD technicians have been out here, they have had the opportunity to utilize ordnance they don’t normally have access to,” Jordan said. “Adding this kind of realism to the training multiplies it exponentially.”
The event concluded with a culminating exercise, Sept. 20 and 21, with support from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. During the scenario, 2/7 Marines provided security and conducted patrols through a simulated IED-laden battle space.
“We integrated with 2/7 while the command operations center was tasked to provide direct and general support to the Marines as they go about the 48-hour scenario,” Jordan said. “It encompassed them coming in and setting up a patrol base where they performed cordon and searched throughout areas located close by.”
According to Jordan, the company has been training annually aboard the Combat Center for the last five years, but on a much smaller scale. This is the first time the unit brought a wide variety of support personnel to assist in the training.
“We’ve been able to bring everyone from field radio operators to generator mechanics and it has been valuable training for them as well,” Jordan said. “The support personnel have been outstanding. They’ve put a lot of extra effort to ensuring the realism and accuracy for the scenarios and really challenging the EOD technicians as they go through this training.”
With their training aboard the Combat Center complete, the 3rd EOD Marines return to Camp Hansen confident in their ability to operate in any environment.
“This wouldn’t have happened without the support of [Brig. Gen. Tracy W. King, commanding general, 3rd MLG,] and [Lt. Col. Ryan E. Scott, battalion commander, 9th ESB],” Jordan said. “They’ve been great allowing us to come here to perform this training. Having a full platoon come out and train with additional EOD technicians to support is a big deal for us and we’d like to see this continue in the future.”