MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors from 1st Tank Battalion were joined by Marines and sailors of various units from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to participate in 1st Tanks’ semi-annual three-phase exercise Summer Heat July 16 through 26 here at the Combat Center.
Capt. Stephen Campbell, 1st Tanks operations officer, said Summer Heat is essentially the battalion’s version of Mojave Viper a month-long pre-deployment training evolution, and uses Marines and sailors who have recently returned from deployments to train their fellow Leathernecks for future missions.
“It’s very similar to Mojave Viper, except we are not only the training audience, but the instructors as well,” said Campbell, a native of Enid, Okla.
The training period, which was started in 2005 and typically lasts 26 days, is divided into three stages and incorporates both live-fire and dry-fire events, added Campbell.
The first stage incorporates training tools to familiarize the tankers with mounted improvised explosive devices, urban assault tactics, and cultural awareness of the Middle East, while stage two involves live-fire drills like tank platoon gunnery and a convoy live-fire course.
Stage three is slated to be completed when the battalion returns to the field in September and will include both live- and dry-fire mission rehearsals for Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which Marines must deal with and overcome pre-determined events and situations, and how they react to those situations determines what happens next in the scenario.
Cpl. Michael Medina, tank gunner, Company D, 1st Tanks, said the Combat Center’s weather, temperature, and terrain gives participants a good feel for what they may encounter in areas such as Iraq.
“I think that it is extremely realistic in the environment we’re in,” said the Ever Beach, Hawaii native, who has deployed twice, once with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and once to Iraq with Tanks.
He said he thought the training was extremely realistic compared to other training exercise he had been through.
Medina also said the exercise’s ability to adapt to situational changes allows observers, such as himself, to safely control the training evolution and observe tactics, techniques, and standard operating procedures of participants.
“Every Summer Heat that comes around seems to get better and better,” said Medina.
Both Summer Heat and Mojave Viper play crucial roles in preparing Marines and sailors for deployments. Summer Heat, like Mojave Viper, exists so Marines are prepared for what they may face in theater, so they can continue to bring the fight to the enemy and return home safely once the mission has been accomplished.
“This is definitely worth it, because the Marines who are about to deploy get the training they need,” said Medina.