Reservists prepare for deployment with combat refresher training

20 Jun 2005 | Lance Cpl. Drew W. Barker

Thirty-five activated Marines from the Individual Ready Reserves are participating in a seven-day combat-refresher training program at the School of Infantry in preparation for deployments as combat replacements.

“An athlete wouldn’t play the first game of a season without a few practices before hand,” said Gunnery Sgt. James Hazzard, operations chief with the Reserve Support Unit, Mobilization Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base. “We don’t expect these guys to go back into a combat zone without a little skills refresher.”

The weeklong training, a condensed version of Marine Combat Training, will cover basic infantry skills, land navigation, first aide, crew-serviced weapons use and maintenance, familiarization with improvised explosive devices, combat leadership skills, scout and patrol techniques and a number of other fundamental areas, according to Maj. Shawn Flores, Mobilization and Processing Center director and Mobilization Support Battalion operations officer, RSU, Mobilization Support Battalion, MCB.

“This is the absolute minimum training ready reserve Marines need, regardless of their military occupational specialty, to return to active duty,” said Flores.

Although most of the Marines participating in the training program hold a primary MOS in the 0300 field of basic infantry men, there are also a number of field artillery men, basic construction, equipment and shore party men, basic tank and amphibian tractor men and basic motor transportation men, according to Hazzard.

All of these Marines, who have previously reached their end of active service date, have volunteered to return to active duty and deploy as combat replacements. It is the responsibility of the RSU to get them as prepared as possible, according to Flores.

“Most of these Marines haven’t handled weapons since they’ve been out,” said Master Sgt. Marty Boettcher, transition chief, RSU, Mobilization Support Battalion, MCB. “And a lot of them have been done with their active service for two or three years now.”

In addition to the condensed combat training, the 35 Marines will continue on to the Combat Refresher Course with 2nd Marine Division for additional training in language, culture and “theater specific” skills, according to Flores.

“We need to make sure these guys come back alive,” said Hazzard. “The more training we can get them before they deploy, the better chance we have to do that.”