MARINE AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines with Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment conducted a squad supported live fire and maneuver exercise during the Integrated Training Exercise 1-16 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California Oct. 23-24, 2015.
The squad-sized attacks were the first of three main platoon training exercises. To prepare for ITX, the Marines started the year with multiple company and battalion-sized exercises such as deployments for training at Army Instillation Fort A.P. Hill and Marine Corps Base Quantico, according to 1st Lt. Phillip D. Jones the Company Executive Officer. There, they conducted an amphibious field exercise, three battalion field exercises, and many company-sized training events.
“The ultimate scheme of maneuver for this range was to fortify the platoons,” said Jones. “Each platoon’s objective was to take over three trenches inside the range utilizing riflemen to clear each targeted area on foot while mortar men and machine gun men provided support.”
Jones said one of the biggest challenges for each platoon was what the ITX instructors call “the pinning effect.” As the squads maneuver through the trenches, simulated fire pins them down, and they have to provide a corresponding answer to each scenario.
“Every platoon learns more and more about the three tenants of being an infantry-man,” said Jones. “Moving on to the battalion-level event is when we’ll put everything together, so as long as we shoot, move and communicate, I think we will be good.”
“I think all the platoons today did very well,” said Jones. “As the commandant says, NCO’s are the backbone of the company and the battalion, and without them, we couldn’t have gotten done what we did today.”
This range is the first building block for the rest of ITX, with the next step being a company reinforced exercise at range 401 where they will perform an attack on a company-sized scale. The final exercise will be a battalion-sized live fire and maneuver assault, said Master Sgt. Joshua T. Laverty, a Tactical Training Exercise Control Group instructor.
Combat operations across the full spectrum of ITX are covered by TTCG instructors six times a year, watching over two battalions at a time. Laverty said his job is to cover down on the infantry and engineer portion, while another section covers down on tanks and light armored vehicles.
“This is their last real training assessment before they deploy and is sometimes the only real training they will get,” said Laverty. “That’s why it’s so important that our coyotes [instructors] are proficient and are able to articulate corrections in a way that hints to positive reinforcement instead of giving them feedback in a bad light."
There is always room for improvement in every unit that comes through Twentynine Palms for ITX, according to Laverty. Whether they are good or bad, they will always get an accurate and honest assessment from the instructors.
“The first run was a little shaky, only because it was the first round, but after that it was me going really deep to find corrections,” said Laverty. “They have a good, strong corps of NCO’s and I think they are going to do well on the deployment.”