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Twentynine Palms, California
Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Cpl. Christopher Stephens, mortarman, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, prepares rounds for Pfc. Thomas Curtis, mortarman, 1/1, during an individual training exercise at Range 410A aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., July 25, 2017. 1/1 is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. and is serving as part of the GCE during ITX 5-17. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Margaret Gale)

Photo by Pfc. Margaret Gale

‘First of the First’ prepare to fight

3 Aug 2017 | Lance Cpl. Isaac Cantrell Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif., conducted live-fire training exercises at range 410A in support of Integrated Training Exercise 5-17 aboard the Combat Center July 25, 2017.

‘First of the First’ is organized around fire and maneuver warfare. In order to optimize their effectiveness and lethality, they must learn to fight in climates that vary from their native, according to 1st Lt. Jack Boger, Assistant Battalion Intelligence Officer for 1/1.

“Coming out to Twentynine Palms, [Calif.], from Camp Pendleton offers a very different environment for our Marines to train in,” Boger said. “It’s a good opportunity to see what it may feel like if they do go down range and serve in some challenging desert environments.”

The mission of 1/1, as is the mission of all infantry battalions, is to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or to repel the enemy’s assault fire and close combat. The training that 1/1 conducted on range 410A not only offered the chance to practice their mission, but was designed to exercise their live-fire and maneuver skills concurrently with combined arms training.

“It’s a pretty unique opportunity to train at Twentynine Palms, [Calif.], because we actually get to see how combined arms can be used,” said Cpl. Phillip Williams, a squad leader in 3rd platoon. “That’s something that some of our junior Marines haven’t seen in this capacity.”

Combined arms is the integration of infantry and support elements. It was the use of combined arms that made this exercise a success. Mortar men sent 60mm rounds down range to provide cover for machine guns to move into a covering position. Once set, the machine guns suppressed deep targets while riflemen and combat engineers advanced on their objective. As the riflemen and engineers neared the objective and mortar fire became obsolete, the riflemen had to rely on fire and maneuver movement and the support of the machine guns to advance.
Overall, leaders on all levels throughout the company found the training to be very rewarding. One squad leader, Sergeant Alexander Miller, found many shortcomings within his squad, which he sees as an opportunity for improvement.

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