MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines are no strangers to urban combat. From as far back as the Battle of Chapultepec, to the Battle of Hue City during the Vietnam War, to the more contemporary urban battles of Fallujah and Ramadi during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Marines have been kicking down doors in every clime and place.
Despite their experiences, urban combat skills do not materialize out of thin air. While all Marines receive some form of Close Quarters Battle training, more advanced techniques must be learned to ensure success in combat.
The Raid Leaders Course is one of many training programs in the Marine Corps that teaches these skills.
The three-week program is designed to teach Marines the skills they need to conduct raids in urban environments. This includes refining combat marksmanship skills, learning advanced Military Operations on Urban Terrain and CQB techniques, as well as learning raid planning procedures.
“No matter how many bombs you drop on something, someone is going to have to go in and physically take that space,” explains Kevin Harris, combative marksmanship trainer with Expeditionary Operations Training Group. “That is why we need to understand MOUT movement so they can safely move around an objective area and clear a room, which is where CQB comes into play.”
Despite it being an advanced course, the skills taught are broken down to their basic steps.
Harris explained he likes to teach a mantra of brilliance in the basics. For this particular tactic to be effective, everyone on the team has to understand their role in a given situation and practice at it.
Taking a crawl-walk-run approach, Marines in the course start with two-man room clearing, working their way up to four-man clearing. Marines cycle through each position in an team, making sure they understand their role in a particular spot.
“To me, knowledge is power,” said Harris. “I want to give everyone the knowledge they need to be successful. If I know there are some certainties in combat, why would I not practice these things over and over again?
“The guys that are at the top weren’t born that way,” Harris added. “They committed themselves to learning how to do something right and then practiced it over and over again until they mastered it before moving on to a new skill.”
While Raid Leaders Course instructors teach their students the skills they need to be successful, the goal isn’t perfection. It’s up to the students to take the skills they have learned back to their respective units and not only keep refining them, but teach their junior Marines what they learned.
Sergeant Aronros Olano, a squad leader with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment and RLC student, explained that the course is beneficial for his unit, as a majority of their sergeants, corporals and lance corporals who hold a leadership billet are attending the course.
“I’m learning different ways to teach my Marines how to clear rooms and clear hallways,” said Olano, a Las Vegas native. “The course instructors are giving us a bigger spectrum of tools to add to our toolbox that we can then transfer over to our junior Marines.”