Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
Since the early 1990s, the Combat Center has provided thousands of Marines with the necessary training to conduct combat operations in a combined arms environment. Training exercises have given Marines the readiness to adapt to an ever-changing battlefield. As the requirements and missions for the Marine Corps changed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, so did the training requirements. As a whole, the Marine Corps has developed a program to compete with changing war fighting tactics.
The Combat Center launched the first Integrated Training Exercise as the Marine Corps’ leading pre-deployment training, Jan. 11. More than 15 units, Marine Corps wide, began ITX 1-13, the successor to Enhanced Mojave Viper. ITX still maintains much of the same, or slightly modified fundamental core events previously found in EMV.
“ITX is new and it is still evolving,” said Col. Andrew Kennedy, director, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group. “ITX 1-13 will be different from ITX 1-14. ITX looks very similar to EMV right now. We are still training OEF-bound units along with non-OEF-bound units.”
The Corps is taking a new step in training evolutions and pre-deployment preparation. During ITX, Marines will be trained to support general contingency operations for service in the Unit Deployment Program and on Marine Expeditionary Units.
“The transition to ITX is focused on keeping the best parts of EMV while increasing the number of opportunities to integrate the tactical elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force,” Kennedy said.
ITX, however, has slightly different scenarios than its predecessor, EMV. It still involves the 400 series live-fire ranges with platoon and company-sized attacks, but training utilizes company support with a live-fire defense the following day, rather than that night.
“Most of the changes in the program apply to those other non-OEF bound units,” Kennedy said. “Since the requirement for a heavy counterinsurgency focus is reduced in this demographic, time in the schedule for unit headquarters not involved in stability operations was re-allocated to additional MAGTF integrated events such as the Long Range Raid and the Small Scale Exercise.”
Marines deploying in support of OEF will have training very similar to the previous exercises that involved Afghan role players and training scenarios.
Clear, Hold, Build-3 became the final exercise, a battalion size attack. The battalion concludes an attack on day one of the FINEX and then sets up a defense to fend off a hostile enemy. Finally, the battalion launches a counter-attack on day three.
“When the Marine Corps ends participation in OEF, the SSE will expand to involve that infantry battalion allowing the regimental combat team to operate with two battalions,” Kennedy said. “This will serve as a link to the future Large Scale Exercises, set for summer 2014.”
The nature of modern-day war continually changes. With that, the Corps must rise to the occasion and adapt and overcome. The Combat Center and Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command are ensuring Marines stay one step ahead of the enemy. ITX will continue EMV’s efforts in shaping the Corps’ forces that continue to deploying in support of OEF as well as any future combat operations.