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Twentynine Palms

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

Twentynine Palms, California
ATFP enhances marksmanship skills, prepares for call to duty

By Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson | | September 19, 2007

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Eighteen Marines from Headquarters Battalion that volunteered for the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Platoon received the opportunity to practice their marksmanship with the rifle and pistol at the rifle range Sept. 19.

“The primary function of the Headquarters Battalion ATFP Platoon is to act as a crisis management force to provide enhanced security for the Combat Center in the event of a emergency,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Ruffo, ATFP officer for the battalion. “In concurrence with other units aboard the Combat Center, the ATFP Platoon will augment next to the Provost Marshals Office during a designated enhanced security posture.”

Sgt. Amy Long, 1st Platoon squad leader, kicked off the monthly training exercise by briefing the days training.

The Marines were scored on their control and hammer pairs, failure to stop, and box drills. They practiced these drills stationary, and again while moving, firing at an opponent, from the 25 yard line to the five yard line while practicing close-quarters combat.

They also conducted familiarization firing drills with the pistol, learning how

to draw and fire their pistol safely.

According to the Marine Corps order 3302.1B all Marine Corps personnel, military and civilian, must be aware of the terrorist threat. Furthermore, all Marine Corps personnel must possess the knowledge to detect signs of terrorism, and to defend against

its impact.

The platoon is prepared to assist PMO if the Combat Center reaches Force Protection Bravo. The Combat Center is currently at Force Protection Alpha with minimal terrorist threat. There are five different force protections, ranging from normal, meaning no current terrorist threat, to delta, where a terrorist attack is taking place or just occurred.

To ensure the Combat Center’s safety and readiness for a terrorist the platoon meets once or twice a month for training. Their training was put to use once this year when they augmented PMO for a base-wide lockdown and vehicle search in July.

Since the size of the platoon is small, the hierarchy inside the platoon is slightly different than a normal platoon.

“We have a platoon commander which may be either a staff noncommissioned officer or an officer who will oversee the training and the execution of the platoon tactics in time of a crisis,” said Ruffo. “The platoon members are broken down into three squads with squad leaders, and three teams assigned to each squad. Each team consists of three to four Marines.”

Their monthly training also consists of classes that teach the Marines what to do in case of a contamination, and how to work along side of other units aboard the base, including the Combat Center fire department.

They will also learn the proper technique of room clearing, house searching and patrolling.


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