CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - U.S. Marines with the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, conducted an urban breaching exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov. 16-18, 2016.
"We are conducting an urban breaching exercise to further the knowledge of our junior Marines in urban demolition and discuss what is practical in a tactical environment," said Sgt. Anthony Bouquet, a combat engineer with Bravo Company, 7th ESB.
The Marines taped demolition explosives to doors to practice gaining entry to fortified positions.
"We’re using urban mobility charges. We’re focusing on doors today, but these charges can be applied to walls, windows and roofs as well, to gain entry to a fortified position," said 2nd Lt. Eric Satterthwaite, a platoon commander with Bravo Company, 7th ESB.
The Marines expanded their training to include water charges, detonation lines, and oval charges as well as room clearing at the fire team level.
"We have water charges which are comprised of two IV bags duct taped to three strands of detonation cord and cardboard," said Bouquet. "Detonation cords wrapped around card board mimic a body-sized explosion, and oval charges wrapped around a small hole are designed to blow open a pad lock or hinges.
Noncommissioned officers counseled their junior Marines on how to implement the explosives to provide the safest and most precise detonations.
"Our goal is for our junior Marines to become knowledgeable enough to be a subject matter expert on demolition, because if they get attached to a forward-deployed squad they’re normally on their own and they need to be an asset to their team," said Bouquet.
NCOs used this training to strengthen their small unit leadership skills and become better leaders of Marines, according to Satterthwaite.
"This training gives the NCOs the opportunity to look at what their Marines are capable of and what they need to work on," he said. "A lot of the junior Marines haven’t experienced these kinds of demolitions before, so they’re a little unconfident with the employment. The NCOs get an opportunity to see what their junior Marines can do under stress."
The Marines spent a day preforming dry runs, so that when it came time to implement the explosives they could be confident in their abilities. Afterward, the squads met with their squad leader to discuss what could have been done better.
"We need to make sure our junior Marines grow and are comfortable enough with the equipment, so that if we got deployed tomorrow I would have full confidence in their abilities," said Satterthwaite.
Getting first-hand experience with the explosives helps Marines retain and understand the information when it is partnered with a power point or reading material.
"The Marines are performing well, and most of all the junior Marines are receiving a wealth of knowledge and they’re soaking it up," said Satterthwaite.