Explosive finale for CAX-9;

15 Sep 2000 | LCpl. Zachary A. Crawford

In major league baseball, there is the ever-popular World Series. For football fans, the most exciting game of the year is the Super Bowl. In soccer, there is the World Cup.

In combat, however, there is no championship; in wartime there is simply victory and defeat.  For the Combined Arms Exercise, which is the Marine Corps premier training exercise, the culminating evolution is known as the 'Final Exercise.'

For the Marines participating in this evolution, "FINEX" was a time to work hand-in-hand with the other elements comprising Marine Air Ground Task Force 8.

"This is where the Marines get to put to use the things they have been training for during the past few weeks," said Sgt. Maj. John J. Sekula Jr., 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines Sergeant Major. "This is the final show in which they see and do it all."

Participating in the FINEX is a beneficial evolution for all Marines during CAX.

"The newer Marines rarely get a chance to see all of the firepower that is available to the MAGTF," said Sekula. "They don't get to see this kind of training at Camp Lejeune, where training can be somewhat restrictive."

FINEX is one of the biggest training events the Marine Corps has to offer.  MAGTF-8, which participated in CAX-9 during July and August, offered approximately 3200 Marines and Sailors opportunities to hone their individual and unit skills.

"I really learned that it is important to work with your fellow Marines to get the job done right," said Pfc. Joseph R. Martinez. Motor transport operator for Truck Co., 8th Marine Regiment.

An important aspect of the training they received at CAX is that it is based on a "building block" approach.  Units reporting to Twentynine Palms for training begin exercises at the fire team and squad levels.  From there, they move to the platoon and company levels.  Finally, the battalion and regiment are required to work organically.  FINEX, as the culminating evolution of CAX, requires the participation of every unit in the MAGTF.

"This is where we can actually interact with and see the other elements of the MAGTF," said Pfc. Joseph R. Martinez, motor transport operator for Truck Co., Headquarters Bn., 2d Marine Division.

The Marines had many different objectives to accomplish while participating in the FINEX.  There were such things as clearing minefields, breaching obstacles to make lanes for tanks and other armored vehicles, and direct and indirect fire missions. 

"Our mission was accomplished and the proper respect was given to our Marines and their commanders," said SgtMaj Ronald Fetherson, 8th Marines Sergeant Major.  "All of the Marines did a good job out here.  They came out together and now they will all return home together."