Built to be destroyed

12 Feb 2001 |

Marines of Special Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, can't train their Marines to penetrate populated buildings by blowing holes in them.  Although this would be ideal for them, they must adapt and overcome to make their training realistic while still feasible. 

Second Force Service Support Group combat engineers attached with MEU Service Support Group-24 are building a new breach assault pit with mock walls and rooftops to aid in SOTG's training.

The pit will give Marines the experience of blasting through walls or the roof at the Stone Bay SOTG complex.

Former explosive ordinance disposal officer Warrant Officer David S. Pommel designed the new pit to be superior to its predecessor.  Not only is it further away from the classrooms, but its roof is closer to the ground for increased safety, explained Staff Sgt. Michael D. Muller of Pendleton, Ore., a dynamic assault instructor at the SOTG complex.

"The new location of the pit helps do two things.  It centralizes our training facilities and lowers the amount of pressure on the classrooms due to explosions," said Muller. "And since training doesn't stop due to explosions outside, it will create a less distracting learning environment.

"With the roof closer to the ground it's easier for training because we can just climb on the roof without using a ladder.  It's also easier for our engineers to rebuild after we destroy it."

The pits are destroyed during the training process so they are constantly being repaired, explained Muller.

"The last pit was destroyed by 22nd MEU.  This one will be destroyed by the 24th MEU and rebuilt by combat engineers of MSSG-26," said Sgt. Brian P. Nichols of Gobles, Mich., engineer in charge of the Marines who rebuilt the pit. 

There are four different types of walls in the pit, explained Nichols.

"They are built differently to simulate different strengths of walls.  Some are enforced with steel poles and cement, and some have bricks.  It gives the Marines more experience penetrating a variety of walls," he added.

For many of the Marines this is the first time laying brick, said Nichols.  "It's not something we get to do often."

The Marines found this to be a good learning experience.  "I feel good about this project," said Cpl. Jason G. Nielsen of Cherokee, Iowa, combat engineer, MSSG-24.  "I'd feel better if I got to blow it up."