CAMP PENDLETON, Calif --- In the desert sand and wind, the Marines and Sailors of Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group, test their combat skills during Integrated Training Exercise 2-16 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. Since mid-January, the Marines have refined their skills as a cohesive unit through various scenario-based exercises.
The ITX, designed to prepare units for future combat operations, 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.
“For us, this is an opportunity to grow and receive an assessment on our training from an outside source that is not biased,” said Capt. Nicholas Rice, the assistant operations officer for Headquarters and Service Company, CLB-5.
Serving as the Logistics Combat Element for the MAGTF, CLB-5 is responsible for providing fuel, transportation, food and water to the Ground Combat Element. In addition to the added experience of working in a fast-paced environment, the battalion completed several training events assessed by the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, also known as coyotes.
“They have a wealth of knowledge that really allows the entire battalion, at every level, to hone their skills and build a stronger team,” added Rice, a native of Highlands Ranch, Colo.
The Marines were instructed and graded on training events such as the Enhanced Motorized Operations Course; a convoy operation involving several enemy ambushes and fire support scenarios. The goal was to maintain the security of the convoy while pushing toward their objective. EMOC is intended to give the vehicle operators and passengers a worst-case scenario feel for what a convoy may encounter.
The Sailors of CLB-5 and 1st Medical Battalion also got their share of specialized training. Mass casualty simulations and indirect-fire drills kept them on their toes. These types of drills force Marines and Sailors to quickly respond to stressful situations. Attempting to treat 10 or more simulated casualties at a time is an experience some of them weren’t accustomed to.
The missions tasked during the ITX simulated realistic operations the Marines may face while supporting 1st Marine Division during a deployment. To make the operations more realistic, TTECG utilizes role-players to act as foreign nationals to interact with the service members.
As a watch chief for H&S Co., Sgt. Jennifer Elder spent a lot of time in the combat operations center and says it has allowed her to see the effects that a large-scale exercise has on the individual Marines and their sections.
“This is a great opportunity to see the bigger picture of what’s going on,” said Elder. “This causes everyone to become more proficient at what they do and also gives us a chance to cross train. Because of the size of this [exercise], there are a lot of things that we get to do here that we just wouldn’t be able to do back in the rear.”
Both Elder and Rice agree the junior Marines benefit vastly in these exercises.
“I feel like the junior Marines will walk away with a better understanding of what’s expected of them and how the actions that they take affect the whole picture,” said Elder.
Rice said he’s seen those junior Marines give nothing less than the top-notch effort needed to keep an exercise this large working properly.
With an upcoming deployment to Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, this ITX is a pre-deployment indicator of what these Marines will be experiencing. They are in the finishing stages of the exercise, and are working tirelessly to be ready when it’s their turn to answer the call.