MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors from 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, concluded a 10-day battalion-level field exercise Oct. 3 at the military operations in urban terrain facility at Range 215.
The exercise began in the early morning with Weapons Company forming a security perimeter around the town before Companies A, B, and C pushed through the area while observing for simulated improvised explosive devices, engaging enemy role players with small-arms fire and interacting with civilians and Iraqi police.
Capt. Ty Moore, the commanding officer of Company A, said the exercise was a kind of miniature Mojave Viper, a pre-deployment training package, and was intended to teach counterinsurgency, or “COIN” skills.
Moore, a native of Wasilla, Alaska, said as part of their COIN training, the Marines and sailors of 1/7 were educated in tank and infantry integration, mechanized vehicle and infantry integration, and entry control points.
He said the Marines and sailors also learned census patrols, which are everyday occurrences in Iraq, and involve patrolling and going house-to-house in order to gain a better knowledge of the local community and surroundings.
In addition to census patrols, 1/7 also worked on honing their skills in “precision violence,” said Moore.
“The idea is that you isolate a threat and deal with that threat, specifically minimizing collateral damage,” said Moore.
Once the exercise was finished, Moore said he was very satisfied with how the training went and how his Marines and sailors performed.
“I was very pleased with the Marines’ performance,” said Moore. “The battalion clear with all the pyrotechnics really gave a sense of realism to the Marines.”
During the patrol, Moore said Company A found every IED threat, did not injure or kill any civilians, worked well with the Iraqi Police, and even impressed the role players.
At the debriefing immediately following the exercise, a role player addressed the company and told the Marines personally that their effort was the best he had seen because it was accurate and the civilian population and homes of the mock-village were respected.
1st Lt. Christopher W. Simpson, the executive officer of Company A, was also satisfied with the company’s effort and while he admitted there will always be room for improvement, he was pleased to see the company further along in its training than expected.
Simpson, a native of Rochester, N.Y., said the exercise showed that the company has grown closer over the past few months, and he is proud to watch the Marines grow as individuals and as a company.
Cpl. Walter Pilkington, a field radio operator with Company A, shared the same feeling as his executive officer.
“There is always room from improvement,” said Pilkington, a native of Fort Collins, Colo. “But I think we came together as a group and are working better together.”
After hiking an estimated three miles back from the field, 1/7 worked to get things in order before getting some well-earned rest and relaxation.