Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twetnynine Palms Calif. --
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, conducted the Mechanized Assault Course as part of the Combat Center’s first Integrated Training Exercise Jan. 22 at Range 210.
The battalion is approximetly half-way through the 29-day ITX training preparing them to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The big thing the Mechanized Assault Course gives them is it makes them put together all the individual functions the company or battalion does,” said Lt. Col. Jason Pratt, head of tactical air-control evaluation, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group. “Not only is it squads doing squad tactics and platoons doing platoon tactics, you have to integrate it all.”
The MAC is a two-day company-sized exercise that integrates the different assets available to the unit when engaging the enemy. The course involves a day of offensive attacks followed by a day of defensive measures.
The unit had tactically entered the Military Operations on Urban Terrain town at the range the previous day and pushed the enemy forces toward the south. They then had 12 hours to set up defensive positions and repel the adversary.
“I like ITX a lot better than EMV,” said Lance Cpl. Philip Dimalanta, rifleman, 3/4. “It just keeps you in the mindset of continuous operations. It’s more like the real thing.”
The Marines were lined up against a berm on the south side of the town. They had dug into the ground and set up strategic machinegun positions. The infantrymen were faced with a new challenge however, utilizing the weapons and logistics of other battalions around them.
Marines with 1st Tank Battalion, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion and 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion were attached to them, lining their defensive position with their unit’s armored vehicles.
The Marines held a defensive position through the night until the enemy’s first attack at 8 the next morning. As the day progressed, they continued to hold their defensive positions.
The infantrymen successfully integrated the light armored vehicles, M1A1 Abrams Tanks and assault amphibious vehicles as well as multiple air support components for attack and evacuation of simulated casualties.
“The big piece in our pre-deployment training is we give them the worst case scenario here, as far as tasking them as much as possible,” Pratt said. “Hopefully, when this goes down in theater, they are not doing all the tasks; They are just doing some of the tasks and they have the confidence to handle whatever they need to.”
The unit’s next stage in ITX will be a battalion-sized live-fire final exercise.