MCB CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
"To locate, close with, and destroy the enemy," said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Douglas. K. Clark, commanding general, 4th Marine Division (MARDIV), Marine Forces Reserve. "That is what it's all about."
Marine Corps Reservists from across the U.S. competed in the 4th MARDIV Rifle Squad Competition held on Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, from Jan. 28 to 31, 2023. The three-day competition tested five squads' ability to accomplish various objectives to determine the 4th MARDIV's most lethal and effective infantry squad.
The competition kicked off with a 12-kilometer hike to evaluate the Marines endurance. After the hike, each squad was tasked to conduct an ambush on contracted role-players to simulate combat conditions and were evaluated throughout various events, such as a call for fire, land navigation, patrolling techniques, and tactical combat casualty care.
The competing squads then navigated to Range G27 to establish defensive positions and conduct live-fire squad attacks, bringing back the left and right lateral limits many may not have seen since the start of their careers.
"In many cases, [the Marines] train on guard or reserve bases, and they don't get a chance to train on a real Marine Corps base," said Clark. "The best opportunities for them to train to [the Marine Corps] standards are on a great base, a world-class premier facility like Camp Lejeune, designed with ranges and field opportunities that cater to the Marine standards."
Not only did the Marines get the chance to experience MCB Camp Lejeune's training areas, but they gained new knowledge and improved on different warfighting skills throughout the competition.
"We all learned something new from this experience," said Sgt. Michael Graf, squad leader, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. "It was an excellent training opportunity and covered much of what we thought we knew and didn't know."
The competition provided the Marines opportunities to enhance their small unit leadership skills and employ critical thinking to navigate through the events with their respective teams.
"They learn a lot here, and it's about what they take back to their units," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael A. Presley, a gunner with 4th MARDIV, Marine Forces Reserve. "Those five squads will take back what they learned here, and that will make us five better companies which will make us better battalions, which makes the division, overall, more lethal."
After facing the unknown, creating solutions to challenging problem sets, and walking 60 miles over three days, the Marines celebrated the culmination of the competition with a warrior’s night which included an awards presentation, food and camaraderie. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment were announced the winners of the 4th MARDIV Rifle Squad Competition.
"To see the looks on the faces of these Marines. They're tired, challenged, and motivated," said Clark. "And the opportunity for them to come to Camp Lejeune to train and test themselves in preparation for the ultimate prize, which is to be the super squad of the Marine Corps. It's invaluable."
The Marines will now move on to the next level of the competition and compete against rifle squads throughout the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Marine Divisions in the 2023 Marine Corps Rifle Squad Competition to determine, under simulated combat conditions, which Marine rifle squad is the most combat effective squad.
"This opportunity in this competition exceeded the expectations of myself and the sergeant major," said Clark. "It really accented the warrior ethos that we're trying to communicate, and to get to train here on [Camp Lejeune], we couldn't have asked for anything better."