MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
As Marines make their way through rocky, uneven terrain and close in on simulated enemy bunkers, fire teams open-fire and take out each position.
Marines with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment spent a week squad rushing their way to obtain the battalion’s squad live-fire certifications in the Combat Center’s Gays Pass Training Area.
To receive their certifications, each squad is evaluated on their ability to react to an enemy engagement through offensive maneuvers, said Capt. Carlos Cuevas, the commanding officer for 2/7’s Company G.
“We will remediate until they pass,” said Gunnery Sgt. Simon Sandoval, the Co. G gunnery sergeant. “We train to standards, not time.”
Although the training involves the whole squad, it is mainly to evaluate the squad leaders, their ability to lead their squad and how they break them down to achieve the mission at hand, said Sandoval, an El Paso, Texas native.
Marines are evaluated in three lanes during the course of the training. Each lane has different environments and situations to help the squad think quick on their feet and apply the best offensive tactics to each situation, Cuevas said.
The first lane is focused on terrain and was meant to be physically exhausting, Sandoval said. The squad had to move together as they took over multiple simulated enemy bunkers while they maneuvered through uneven, rocky terrain.
The second lane focuses on security patrolling where the enemy has the advantage of the terrain, Cuevas said. The squad leader must break down his fire teams and decide what further action is required according to the scenario.
The third lane consists of a cross compartment danger area. This is when the enemy has complete advantage of the terrain. This is where the Marine’s only avenue of approach is through a kill zone.
“The cross compartment danger area is the greatest challenge of all,” Cuevas said. “This could disrupt their ability to maneuver.”
Each squad maneuvers through one lane each day. They conduct dry runs and then live-fire runs, both day and night for each lane before moving on to the next.
“This has been challenging,” said Cpl. James Flores, the squad leader for 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Co. G. “This is the first time most of my squad has ever done a squad live-fire range. For this being their first time, they are doing better than expected.”
This training is vital for the Marines to learn before they go into any combat environment so they can react to the best of their ability in any situation.
“It creates squad cohesion and helps internal communication within the squads,” said 2nd Lt. Ryan Alt, the platoon commander for first platoon, Company G. “If we have strong squads, than we have a strong battalion.”