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Marines from Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment participate in the final exercise of the Enhanced Company Operations Limited Objective Experiments 2 at the Combat Center’s Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group Building Aug. 21. The main focus of the ECO LOE-2 was to train Marines in company level operations due to battlefield missions becoming larger and more distributed.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

Warfighting Lab tests new theories to empower companies

22 Aug 2008 | Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

  Marines from 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, participated in the final exercise of Enhanced Company Operations Limited Objective Experiments 2 field study in tents outside the Combat Center’s Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group building Aug. 20 through 22.

The purpose of the ECO LOE-2 field study is to evaluate training Marines in company-level operations, because Marines in areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan are encountering an increase in the number of combat missions that require a full company’s attention, due to the mission’s large size and distribution over a wide land mass.

“This is preparation for Mojave Viper and their deployments,” said Maj. Tom Browne, company-level operations project officer, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. “They’re getting real world training on where they might be going.”

One of the main focuses of the field study was observing the ability of the Marines to set up and manage experimental Company Level Operations Centers, which are part of the effort to provide company commanders with quick and accurate information in future combat situations.

“The goal is to be able to analyze and collect information and act on it,” said Maj. Brian Greene, an instructor with MCTOG.

Capt. Jose Vengoechea, project officer, MCWL, said the Marines from 1/7 were selected by their commanding officer based on their security clearance level and their ability to handle the complex computer and communication equipment associated with CLOCs and which is not normally operated by infantry Marines.

Vengoechea also said all the Marines participating in the CLOC, except the field radio operators, were infantrymen who he believed would rather be in the field with their comrades, but who were providing the battalion with an essential warfighting tool by participating.

“The CLOC gives the company commander a tremendous capability to conduct semi-independent operations,” said Vengoechea. “It gives his company the ability to process intel at a lower level and turn it around much quicker to affect operations.”

From July 29 through Aug. 19 Marines participating in ECO LOE-2 received classroom instruction on CLOC leadership, intelligence training, and operations training. 

The final exercise allowed the Marines to apply their training to a radio and computer simulated battlefield allowing instructors and observers to evaluate the usefulness of training received over the last three weeks, and how the training prepares Marines for operating a CLOC in a Combat Operations Center, said Browne, a native of Stafford, Va. 

“The CLOC FinEx was designed to be practical application for the Marines that received all the CLOC training, and it also gave us an opportunity to evaluate the CLOC model,” said Vengoechea.

According to the CLOC information sheet, MCWL initiated the CLOC project at the request of Training and Education Command following the Emerging Training Requirements Conference in 2007.

At the conference it was observed that the demands of fighting irregular warfare require advancements in organization, training, and equipping company headquarters to improve effectiveness.

“In Iraq, companies are being asked to do the work of battalions and battalions the work of regiments,” said Vengoechea, a native of Miami, “That work was too much for a company staff to handle effectively, so the CLOC was born.”

The CLOC project is currently focused on the company-oriented Forward Operating Base model, which is used to support tactical operations and is currently employed in Iraq.

“It’s really focused toward a mature theater where counterinsurgency is prominent,” said Greene, a native of Gaithersburg, Md.

However, Browne said the MCWL is currently looking to make the CLOC project more expeditionary, and subsequent experimentation will look more closely at mechanized and foot mobile models in order to break away from the “mature theater” application.

According to the information sheet, once the final interviews have been conducted and all data has been analyzed, MCWL and other participating parties, which include MCTOG, Tactical Training and Exercise Control Group, and the Command and Control Training and Education Center of Excellence, will develop a refined CLOC model and forward all ideas, concepts, data and training recommendations to Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., for possible implementation or other action.

The project is expected to produce at a minimum a battalion training package that can be utilized by the operating forces in preparing battalions for future combat situations, but it’s primary focus was to evaluate new training meant to keep Marines one step ahead of the enemy.

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