FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- Once the smoke cleared and the dust settled to the ground, there was nothing left but bare, level earth. The massive explosion caused large trees to rattle straight to their roots and the ground to quiver and crumble.
Marines from 2d Combat Engineer Battalion, 2d Marine Division, 2nd Assault Amphibian Bn., 2d Marine Division, and 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2d Force Service Support Group, were here to do one thing: make the terrain flat and learn from it.
"This is a unique training experience for us," said Major Bill J. Mattes, Scranton, Pa., native and 2d CEB battalion operations officer. "We can do a lot of thing with demolitions and other things here, that we can't do back at Camp Lejeune. The idea is train the engineers with mission essential tasks and mission performance in a scenario environment."
There are a multitude of tasks that the battalions would like to accomplish during the training evolution.
"Mission essential tasks could include mobility, counter-mobility and survivability," said Mattes. "Others things could include mechanized breeches, obstacles and demolition raids."
Also, the training restrictions encountered at Camp Lejeune are almost non-existent here.
"Coming from a place that is very restrictive like Lejeune, it (A.P. Hill) allows us to do more, because?training?here is almost unrestricted," said Mattes. "We can do things like cut trees with demo and crater roads with our charges, as long as we fix them and a wide variety of other things."
The majority of 2d CEB deployments involve only company level training at Camp Lejeune and more Marines also get involved in training here.
"When we deploy out here, we come as a whole battalion," concluded Mattes. "As a battalion, this is the premier opportunity to deploy and train like this."