CAMP GEIGER, N.C. -- The companies of Marine Combat Training Battalion joined to hone their infantry skills last week and increase battalion unity through a day of friendly competition and a night of barbecuing.
The event's intent was to build teamwork and give the company level sergeants and corporals a chance to share ideals to better train incoming Marines, explained Commanding Officer Lt. Col. David Hall.
He said because of operational tempo the companies rarely come together as a battalion.
"We at MCT Battalion, because of the nature of the beast, are scarcely afforded the opportunity to work together as a whole," said Hall, a native of Bellefonte, Penn. "Our Marines often associate themselves only as a company --which, is why we are here today."
The event began with the companies splitting into five squads of 13 Marines. First, the squads used their land navigation skills to find three checkpoints. At the points, a Marine Corps Combat Skills test awaited each Marine to assess his or her knowledge on the basic principles of warfare.
Next, the Marines ran an obstacle course, and then carried three 50-pound ammunition cans 1,000-yards to simulate an ammunition re-supply.
Lastly, the squads disassembled and reassembled the M-9 pistol, M-16 A2 service rifle, and the M-240 Gulf machine gun. The events were timed and the squad with the lowest time won the competition.
"This is motivating, I'm enjoying it," said Cpl. Reynardo Matos, an instructor with G Company, after completing the obstacle course. "It's kind of like having a child though, you want to wait a while before you try it again," added the Bronx, N.Y. native.
For their efforts the Marines were rewarded with grilled chicken, hamburgers and steak. The meal seemed well received by the exhausted competitors.
Following the meal, Maj. Todd S. Tomko, the operations officer for 3d Battalion, 6th Marines here, and other Marines from 3/6 who recently returned from Afghanistan with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, gave the noncommissioned officers a professional military education (PME) class. Tomko focused on the role of small unit leadership, technical and tactical proficiency, and how these apply to real-world operations.
"What we wanted to imply is that the success of any unit is based on how good we are at the squad level," said Tomko, of Quincy, Ill. "Since it is the NCOs who make timely squad level decisions during combat, the more proficient they are, the better the unit will be."
Tomko said it's important he and his fellow warriors with 3/6 shared their experiences with the MCT instructors. He said PMEs are just as significant at the NCO level as they are at the officer level, and there is a great need for NCOs to be better teachers and scholars.
Hall agreed on PME importance and said his Marines do an outstanding job with it. He said they are tasked with an incredible responsibility over their three-year tour -- they train more than 42,000 Marines a year.
"They do this without very much recognition while making tremendous personal sacrifices," concluded Hall.