MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. -- There is a phrase in the Marines’ Hymn that summarizes the expeditionary nature of Marines: “we have fought in every clime and place where we could take a gun.” Tucked into a valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a Marine installation designed to prepare Marines to fight in the clime of harsh mountain environments.
A small detachment of Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 5, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, and Landing Support Company, CLR-17, 1st MLG, supported 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, during Mountain Exercise 6-13, aboard Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., from Sept. 20 – Oct. 24. The MLG provided logistical support to 1/5 by conducting combat logistics patrols and aerial replenishments.
The logistics primarily included class I supplies: food, health and comfort products; class II supplies: equipment and tools; and class V supplies: blank rounds of ammunition. The detachment also provided personnel transportation and communications support throughout the exercise.
“We’re here to provide tactical and logistical support to 1/5 during MTNX,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas T. Rice, platoon commander, Motor Transportation Company, CLB-5, 1st MLG. “We are running combat logistics patrols to push logistics to the infantry elements in a manner that doesn’t hinder their movement.”
It was necessary for the Marines operating in the almost inaccessible landscape to receive the supplies in order to complete their training. The logistical support allowed 1/5 to succeed in a demanding environment and under a demanding training and operating schedule.
“It says a lot about the CLB-5 Marines and their capability to operate and support our battalion,” said Lt. Col. Keven W. Matthews, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. “The MLG and [Air Combat Element] assets allowed 1/5 to function as a [Marine Air Ground Task Force]. They allowed us to operate at elevation with significant challenges while conducting multiple and simultaneous operations. They’re essential combat multipliers.”
The Marines with 1st MLG had significant challenges of their own. The change of terrain created a sharp learning curve for many of them.
“Our biggest learning point during the exercise was learning how to operate in this environment,” said Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Escalante, platoon sergeant, Motor Transportation Co., CLB-5, 1st MLG. “This is great training for Marines. Since we’ve been out here, I’ve seen the younger Marines’ confidence [improve].”
The mountain exercise is divided into three phases. In phase one, servicemembers learn technical skills that they will utilize throughout the exercise. These include courses in basic movement through the mountains, cliff assaults, animal packing and wilderness survival. Phase two is basic mobility training, where Marines practically apply the skills they learned in grueling movements across the mountains. Phase three was the final exercise, a culmination of everything they learned, applied to a simulated combat operation.
When the Marines with CLB-5 weren’t busy conducting supply operations to support MTNX, they were able to send out rotations of Marines to participate in phase one of the exercise and train alongside 1st Bn., 5th Marines.
“The Marines also did some of the training,” said Rice. “They learned how to conduct river crossings, rock climb, rappel and much more. I’m glad they were able to do that. We kept a small group here to push logistics so the Marines could take turns training.”
During the exercise, Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general, 1st MLG, visited with the participating Marines and voiced his opinion on the importance of the exercise.
“Their mission is to develop relationships as a battalion,” said Brig. Gen. Coglianese “They’re going to walk out of here so much better as Marines. We need to do more of this, we need to make this more regular.”
Although the training is challenging and grueling, when the Marines leave the mountains, they will be better trained, experienced and connected as a unit; ready to fight in every clime or place.