HORNE ARMY DEPOT, Nev. --
Hawaii-based U.S. Marines and sailors are certainly familiar with training in mountains and valleys. But now, some of these Leathernecks, serving with Embedded Training Team 4-3 and ETT 5-3, are training under much different circumstances.
Instead of running their training operations under sunshine in the tropical archipelago, they’re roughing the winter winds and snow in the rocky terrain of Northern Nevada – an area that depicts Afghanistan.
From Feb. 1 to 3, 2008, these two groups of Marines and sailors put weather and elements aside and trained for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan aboard ranges that surround Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne, Nev.
They mounted in humvees, integrated with Afghan soldier role-players and conducted training operations in a mounted mountain mobility course. Subject matter experts like Charles Bradley Young of Mobius Industries and lead instructor for this specific lane at Hawthorne said these training operations are scenarios that the Afghan National Army most commonly see.
“These teams could possibly see action or scenarios that are common in Iraq, but we’re training in [Hawthorne] because it is the most related area to Afghanistan,” said Young. “They need to be comfortable and capable of maneuvering their teams through these elements so they could provide a good service to the Afghan soldiers.”
The purpose of these embedded trainer teams’ deployment is to provide military advice and guidance to the Afghan soldiers. The teams are scheduled to spend nine months in country mentoring and monitoring the Afghan army units to be a self-sufficient military force.
The course consisted of convoy missions with Marines and sailors in humvees and ANA role-player pickup trucks integrated into their patrol. Civilian contractors from Mobius Industries, a defense contracting company subcontracted from Cubic Applications, set up mock improvised explosive devices and pop-up dummy targets to simulate ambushes.
Marines were able to use their turret gunners in the humvees to take down simulated enemy combatants. They also dismounted from the humvees to attack these targets operating side-by-side with the Afghan role-players.
One of the main focuses in the training was to practice talking with the host nation role-players and directing them in ways that would assist them to have control during combat operations. This task for the Marines started off difficult but slowly they became achievable after more repetitions, said Staff Sgt. Andre Cuthbertson of ETT 4-3.
“The training is very realistic,” said Cuthbertson, a Williston, S.C., native. “The missions we do here will be the same missions we’ll be doing in country. We have to get used to [the Afghani] lifestyle and culture so we don’t have to worry about that being a barrier.”
Corpsmen also executed medical treatment training and casualty evacuation training. Marines helped by assisting the role-playing wounded to casualty gathering points and calling in for medical evacuation via helicopter.
“The training really helped the corpsmen and some Marines handle situations where multiple people were severely wounded and needed immediate treatment,” said Seaman Apprentice Joshua Spencer, a corpsman with ETT 5-3 and a native of Prosper, Texas. “Getting Marines involved in this type of training definitely sets us up well for the deployment.”
Ultimately, aside from assault training and immediate action to IED drills, the Marines took advantage of using the role players and language interpreters to figure out the best way to become advisors.
“It’s important they learn these skills now so they can take control being of being advisors when they’re in Afghanistan,” said Young, a former Marine sergeant with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. “This lane exposes their weaknesses so they know what they need to work on.”
Young also said the teams don’t have the full cohesiveness of a normal line platoon from an infantry company. The teams, who have only spent two months training with each other, are made up of selected Marines and sailors serving in the 3rd Marine Division but from different battalions and units.
“Most of us are experiencing this for the first time,” said Cuthbertson. “Not only will we be working with the Afghan soldiers for the first time, we’ll be working with each other for the first time. So, the training is very beneficial as far as team building too.”