CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Sergeant Michael J. Porrini is tightening his boots and strapping down his pack in preparation for 2d Marine Division's annual "Super Squad" competition starting here June 17th.
Porrini, a squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, is one of 52 infantrymen who will compete to determine the division's "top squad".
1st Lt. Roberto Rodriguez, an assistant operations officer at 2d Marine Division, said during the competition squads will be evaluated on their ability to perform assigned combat missions according to the Fleet Marine Field Manual 6-5. Missions he said the infantry squads may someday encounter in combat.
"We want these Marines to realize that an infantry squad is expected to perform at a certain level and that everything they do throughout ... is most likely something they could come across in a real-world operation," Rodriguez said.
The Chicago native said the squads will face challenges like offensive and defensive patrolling, live-fire events, and a six-mile run in combat gear and full-body armor. He explained new to this year's competition, the squads will be tested on their martial arts skills, trench clearing, and their abilities in a nuclear, biological, and chemical environment.
One evaluator, Gunnery Sgt. Raymond H. Mackey, a Platoon Sergeant's Course instructor at the School of Infantry here, said his job is to ensure the squads follow the manual thoroughly. He stressed those who do not will be penalized.
"The "Super Squad" competition is the epitome of how all infantry squads should be," said the Sierra Vista, Ariz., native.
Mackey said by now the squads shouldn't be working up to the competition. He said they should already be at the expected level.
"Only one squad gets to claim the title 'Division Super Squad' for the year, and that will be the squad who has the guts and tactical proficiency to complete the missions in a timely organized manner regardless of the situation," he said.
Infantrymen will not be the only service members taking part in the competition. Attached to each squad will be a Navy corpsman expected to perform on the same level as his fellow warriors. In addition, he must successfully complete a written test compiled by the Division Surgeon's Office here.
Seaman Apprentice Derick S. Medina of Killeen, Texas, said he's spent many hours studying, but his focus is on the care of his 3/8 squad.
Porrini, a squad leader for 3/8, said he expects tough competition from the other regiments. He said his squad is focused and mentally and physically prepared.
"We have a lot of young Marines in the squad. It will be a challenge for us. We are ready to step up and do the best we can do," said the Lee, Mass., native.
Rodriguez said he hopes the Marines use the experience and training they receive during the competition to teach others when they go back to their respective battalions.
"The important lesson of "Super Squad" is that battles are won at the squad level," said Rodriguez. "If you have good squads you'll have good platoons, companies and battalions that can fight and win wars."
Marines and Sailors from 1st Bn., 2d Marines; 3rd Bn., 6th Marines; and 2d Bn., 25th Marines will join 3/8 for the event. The competition will conclude June 21.