MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- After a long and rocky convoy, the travelers arrived at their destination to the sound of locals yelling in a foreign language, protesting the Marine presence.
The Marines dismounted their tactical vehicles and began controlling and directing the locals while providing security to the patrol base.
The chaotic scene escalated as three local women shouted and raised their hands at a Marine sergeant who calmly explained the situation. A native man and his friend attempted to distract Marines holding security in an attempt to swarm the patrol base.
The scene unfolded for Marines with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, during a tactical convoy course at Camp Pendleton March 25, 2015. Marines performed the training in preparation for upcoming deployments with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command, Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Koa Moana.
The convoy training consisted of three phases: Marines performing crowd control while refueling a patrol base, immediate action drills from hostile fire and casualty evacuation from a helicopter landing zone.
“These are skills that need to be constantly maintained and perfected during a time of peace so it can be executed in the chaos of combat,” said 1st Lt. Steven J. Bernard, training officer with 7th ESB. “These skills can atrophy if not constantly practiced.”
Role players were used to help create realistic training for the Marines so they will be prepared to properly handle chaotic crowds.
“The goal of the training is to interact with local nationals and learn how to effectively perform crowd control at a minimum level and resupply the patrol base,” said Bernard. “Some of the role players come from the Middle East and Southwest Asia area.”
With the refueling exercise finished, the convoy moved on from crowd control to immediate action drills.
As the convoy progressed down a dirt trail, they hit a simulated improvised explosive device. The movement stopped and Marines dismounted to investigate the scene. Immediately upon exiting their vehicle, they took on simulated enemy fire from hostiles.
“The intent was to induce friction in a combat scenario to force the Marines to execute techniques, tactics and procedures and immediate actions while receiving enemy fire,” said Bernard.
Once they eliminated the simulated insurgents, Marines conducted IED sweeps to ensure there were no secondary explosions. With the area cleared and their Marine casualties accounted for, the convoys moved on to their final objective, a helicopter-landing zone.
The team grabbed the simulated casualties from the back of the tactical vehicles and moved them to the ground, while a Marine signaled for a notional helicopter using smoke grenades. Once on the deck, the squad evacuated the simulated casualties, on foot, to the helicopter.
“Being able to safely and quickly get a wounded Marine out of the kill zone and evacuated to higher level care is what ensures they are able to survive on the battlefield,” said Bernard. “This is something that is practiced almost daily and can never have enough attention placed on it. That coupled with the chaos of the training in an unfamiliar setting better prepares Marines to execute these tactics in real life.”
The Marines of 7th ESB are one step closer to taking their basic combat skills, machinegun skills and immediate action drills into upcoming deployments with the SPMAGTF-CR-CC, Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Koa Moana.