TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 1, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, conducted Integrated Training Exercise 3-14 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., Feb. 28 - March 27, preparing them for the last combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom later this year.
The month-long ITX, designed to prepare units for future combat operations in Afghanistan, combines the ground, logistics and air combat elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force and evaluates the participating units on their ability to support potential operations while deployed.
“ITX is a Block four, pre-deployment training exercise for a unit that is deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Lt. Col. Joon H. Um, commanding officer, CLB-1. “It is the culminating point of our pre-deployment training and validates that all training has been accomplished and our battalion is ready to deploy.”
The backbone of the ITX are Marines from Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, known as “Coyotes,” who coach and teach classes and practical application of core tactics, training and procedures, and create a battle space to test the units and assess their combat proficiency.
“Our intent is to prepare them to face the adverse conditions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin M. Brandhorst, logistics operations training chief, TTECG.
At the end of each training event, Coyotes such as Brandhorst, conduct a debrief with commanders and senior leaders with the battalion to determine what portions of their training still need work.
“The evaluations provided by TTECG have been absolutely crucial to our learning and growing,” said Um, a 43-year-old native of Harrington Park, N.J. “They truly coach, mentor, and teach, our Marines and sailors, the vital aspects of each training evolution so that everyone walks away better than they were the day before.”
While focusing on their training, the battalion was also responsible for facilitating the training of the ground combat element during the exercise.
“We provided combat service support to the ground combat element,” said Capt. Nicholas S. Bakewell, future operations officer, CLB-1. “Our mission as the logistics combat element is to provide logistics to the GCE and air combat element. As they are doing their own events, they are going to require resupplies from us because of their limited capabilities,” added the 26-year-old native of Warrenton, Va.
The ITX focuses heavily on platoon level actions. For the LCE, this emphasis translates to developing combat logistics patrols and combat engineering operations.
“For a CLB, our core maneuver elements are comprised of combat logistics patrols,” said Um. “The ITX works to develop our CLPs to work together as a team, including refinement of their tactics, training and procedures, such as machine gunnery, to ensuring command and control of the CLPs is exercised at the battalion level. All these elements are essential for a CLP to execute their mission of providing combat logistics support to an infantry battalion.”
With the Coyotes painting the battlefield with a number of complex and realistic scenarios, the Marines and sailors learn first-hand how to act in specific situations. Role-players help provide an authentic experience and force the servicemembers to safely interact with the local populace.
Some of the scenarios included indirect and direct fire attacks, vehicle borne improvised explosive devices, assaults and civil affairs missions. All of which are real-world problems the Marines could face as they conduct retrograde operations in Afghanistan.
Confidence was not short of hand as the exercise came to a close. After completing their final training event, the Marine Readiness Exercise, and meeting their essential mission tasks, the battalion was officially ready to deploy.
“As we enter the final stages of ITX, we have already confirmed our strengths and the areas that we need to remediate during Desert Scimitar 14,” said Um. “After watching the Marines perform, it’s been very impressive to watch the Marines and sailors to perform beyond all expectations and do the things that are asked of them in this difficult environment.”