A lesson before the mission

15 Mar 2011 | Pfc. Nik Phongsisattanak

Even in war there are rules in place to prevent any unnecessary suffering, but there are those who disregard the rules and go to extremes by attacking the enemy.

An improvised explosive device is the weapon of choice for groups such as the Taliban. The battles fought in Afghanistan and Iraq are not so much direct confrontations with extremist groups as they are a hunt for IEDs. These explosives are often well concealed and can be difficult to detect with an untrained eye.

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 6, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group went on their Counter IED pre-deployment training at the Homestation Training Lane aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, April 15, to learn about what they're up against.

"We do this type of training to better prepare them for the environment that they're going to," said Norman Bowen, a team leader for the Marine Corps Engineer Center, Mobile Training Team at HSTL.

It was a 10-hour training day that started with four hours of classroom training where Marines took notes and asked questions. After completing classroom lessons, the remaining six hours were dedicated to practical application.

Once briefed, the Marines stepped off on their patrol with six humvees in the convoy. Following them was the Mobile Training Team, who watched and evaluated how well the Marines executed their training.

During the exercise the Marines had to spot imitation IEDs and follow standard operating procedures. The HSTL also had a military operations on urban terrain town that was made to simulate the towns they would see in Afghanistan or Iraq.

A butcher shop displayed fake meat, fake sheep were placed on the road and there was even a small market in the town. The training facility was well put together which complemented the well organized training held there.

"The training was excellent," said Sgt. Jonathan E. Homirch, a metal worker with CLB-6, CLR-2, 2nd MLG. "They have a very organized crew of instructors. They know what they're talking about, they have up-to-date information and they run the training in accordance to things that will benefit us in the future, if not on this deployment, then likely in the next to come."

The practical application was a challenge to the Marines because it was their first time conducting the training. Some of them found communicating with the radio to be challenging because they weren't familiarized with it.

"A lot of them are not comfortable with talking on the radio because they may not want to mess up, but this is the time to mess up so that they can learn from it and do it right," said Homirch.

One of the junior Marines said thinking on their feet and quickly choosing a plan of action was the most challenging part. He added that the fluidity of the exercise could have been improved with a second run.

By identifying the areas they struggled with, they gained an important lesson for the future.

"I thought the first group to do the exercise did fantastic," said Homirch. "They applied what they learned and they retained what they learned in the past week of training and executed all their plans of action very well."

The instructors have their work cut out for them, but the experienced Marines that have done the training before or have been deployed also provided helpful tips to the junior Marines.

Bowen said it's for filling to know that the lessons that he teaches Marines at the HSTL may help them through a dangerous scenario, and it feels good to contribute to the preparation of the men and women that protect the United States of America.