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A 60mm mortar round flies from the tube as Pfc. Adam Freidman, a mortar man with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment fires for effect at the Combat Center’s Noble Pass April 7. The week-long training exercise was part of the battalion’s buildup to their Mojave Viper pre-deployment training exercise.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

‘Thundering Third’ prepares to tame Viper

10 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment prepared for their Mojave Viper pre-deployment exercise training their small unit to company level combat skills from April 6 - 10.

The purpose of the training is to gain proficiency from the individual Marine to eventually the battalion level, through refresher and small-unit training, said Maj. Rigoberto Colon, the battalion operations officer and a native of New York.

“This is part of the battalion’s building block approach to training,” Colon said. “Our approach is to start at the lowest level; the individual Marine. Then we build up through our training and refreshing tactics all the way to the company level out here.”

The next step in preparation for the battalion’s upcoming deployment will be operating at battalion strength, their largest level during Mojave Viper.

“Right now we’re only moving up to the company level,” he said Tuesday, before the bulk of the training began. “We’re certifying all of our Marines at the platoon level right now. Later in the week we’re going to be operating with whole companies doing live-fire ranges.”

Colon said the rifle platoons and eventually companies would be performing patrols as well as assault courses during the day and night in addition to the battalion’s other elements using their weapons as well.

“In addition to our rifle platoons doing their normal job, we have every element of the battalion out here for the exercise doing their own thing,” he said. “We have our CAT [Combined Anti-Tank] teams out here doing hunter-killer missions.

“In addition to that we have our snipers doing patrols and unknown distance shoots,” he said. “We’re setting up defensive positions later in the week as well. We’re doing gun line drills as well and unilluminated night movements with our Marines.”

Navy Corpsmen, who were part of the exercise along with their Marines, took a lot from the training.

“Docs go along with the Marines all the time,” said Seaman Sskief Ahmed, a corpsman with 3/4’s Company L, and a native of Tampa, Fla. “Doing this training helps us be closer with the unit and helps us understand the green side more.

“It’s good for me to know what I’m doing on a patrol,” he said. “I know my job well on the medical side, so this is just making what I’ll be doing in country that much easier.”

With their buildup to Mojave Viper over with, the battalion is slated to deploy during the summer later this year.

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