MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER BRIDGEPORT, Calif. --
Marines and sailors with Embedded Training Team 7-5, assembled from various units out of Okinawa, Japan, learned how to operate in extreme altitudes and complex terrain at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Sunday through Friday as part of their preparation for their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The teams are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan to train and embed with the local forces over there as part of the Marine Corps’ support of OEF, said Gunnery Sgt. Jerome Bostick, the chief instructor of the unit training group aboard MWTC.
“These teams will be headed to Afghanistan after their training is done,” said Bostick, a Savannah, Ga., native. “They’ll be headed to [Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center] Twentynine Palms after this to work with ATG [Advisor Training Group] to finish all the training they need.”
They began training for the complex terrain here with their environmental classes and hands-on training, Bostick said.
“They started off learning how to operate in the mountains, because it’s much more difficult to do everything up here,” he said. “Once they get finished with learning the skills they need in the new environment, they move on into the ‘lanes’ we do with them.
“There’s six lanes that last 24 hours each, and we rotate the teams through them after one day,” he said. “The ranges go from conducting and countering ambushes, discovering a weapons cache, tactical information collection, reacting to indirect fire and conducting a casualty evacuation, to doing a security patrol using pack animals.”
Maj. Urbano Cruz, the Mountain Warfare Unit Training Group Bridgeport officer in charge, elaborated on the unique opportunities available at MWTC and how the training performed here is essential for an ETT to be successful in theater.
“During training at MWTC, each team conducts operations across the Marine Corps’ six war fighting functions in complex, compartmentalized and mountainous terrain in cold weather,” Cruz said. “This is extremely important for units deploying to anywhere in Afghanistan because one; it is not Iraq, and two; conditions and distances are far more severe. MWTC ensures long haul command, control, communications and sustainment are exercised across multiple venues.”
When the six days of lane training began Sunday, service members with ETT 7–5, conducted lane six, in which they had to react to indirect fire and conduct a casualty evacuation.
“It’s tough operating when you’re at a high altitude,” said Staff Sgt. Paul McCawley, a communications-electronics maintenance chief with 7–5 and a Centreville, Va., native. “You learn a lot in a short period of time. It’s all great stuff that we know we will need to operate at the extreme altitudes and in the complex terrain we’re going to face over there, so it’s worth the hard work.”
With their lane training complete, the transition teams will wrap up their mountain warfare training at MWTC and begin their movement to the Combat Center for additional pre-deployment training before heading to Afghanistan later this year.