CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- "There's nowhere Marines can better prepare to fight," said Maj. Gen. John Sattler, 2d Marine Division commanding general, to the Marines and sailors gathered for a Combined Arms Exercise 9-02 "wave-off" behind Goettge Memorial Field House here July 19.
Sattler joined host Col. Ronald Bailey, 2d Marine Regiment commanding officer and the upcoming Marine Air Ground Task Force - 02 commander for CAX-9 in Twentynine Palms, Calif., as he encouraged his Marines and sailors to train like they'd fight.
"When the sun sets tonight, will my warriors be better trained?" Sattler said, as he challenged the MAGTF-2 officers and staff noncommissioned officers present.
Sattler, a native of Monroeville, Pa., asked the Marines present to keep in mind the Corps has told the nation that it is "America's '911' Force." He said since "9-11" the Corps can't afford to put that call on hold. He said it didn't matter whether Marines are atop snow-capped mountains or buried in desert sands, the training they do will show when it comes to fighting.
During the send-off, Sattler and Bailey congratulated the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines' Rifle Squad Competition winners and promoted the II Marine Expeditionary Force's only meritorious gunnery sergeant.
Sattler pinned the chevrons on the now Gunnery Sgt. Jason Hanson of Weapons Company, 1/2, and told wave-off attendees "you can't do much better in leading Marines then Hanson."
Hanson, a Maine Marine, said his success comes from leadership he's received.
Corporal Jacob Warner, a platoon sergeant for 3d Platoon, A Company, said leadership makes or breaks a successful CAX.
"A lot of things come from the small unit leadership you receive in the field," said the St. Paul Minn., native. "At CAX, leadership brings it all together."
CAX-9 will bring together some 3,200 Carolina-based Marines and Sailors. In the Southern California heat, the MAGTF will orchestrate complex warfighting tactics using its entire weapon inventory. Tanks, machine-guns, grenades, mortars, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and thousands of rounds of ammunition will come together to defeat a fictitious enemy in mid-August.
CAX is considered by many the most realistic live-fire training exercise in the Corps and illustrates the Corps' aggressive and continuous approach on the war on terrorism. According to Bailey, of St. Augustine, Fla., a successful CAX will have his Marines returning better trained as a MAGTF and ready to put "steel on target" when required.