MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors scheduled to deploy later this year participated in their first range training at Combat Center Range 215 Aug. 14 to learn how to effectively operate in a hostile environment during daylight and darkness.
The exercise, a three-stage evolution called Day and Night Urban Mobility Operational Course, or DUMOC and NUMOC, was the first range of Enhanced Mojave Viper, a 30-day pre-deployment package required for Marines and sailors deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, for Combat Logistics Battalion 1 from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The first stage brought the platoon through Wardah City, a small, mock Iraqi village near Range 215. Marines were critiqued on convoy operations, inter-unit communication, interaction with the local populace played by several Iraqi role players, and how they dealt with calling in a possible improvised explosive device, said Master Sgt. Steve R. Dennison, the range Corridor and Tactical Training Exercise Control Group motor operations chief staff noncommissioned officer in charge.
The second stage brought Marines and sailors into the urban core of Range 215. There, a vehicle in the convoy was “blown up” by a mock rocket-propelled grenade, and attacked by mock terrorists with small arms weapons.
Marines and sailors dismounted their vehicles, searched the area, cleared buildings, gathered and cared for notional causalities, and neutralized the mock enemy.
The third and final stage took place in the outskirts of Range 215, where only hills could hide possible terrorists. As the convoy emerged over the ridge of a small clearing, a terrorists role player detonated a mock IED, notionally killing key players in the unit’s operation.
As the unit set up 360-degree security with their vehicles and sent out Marines on foot to patrol the area, the triggerman denoted a second mock IED, notionally injuring several more Marines.
After the Marines located and neutralized the trigger man, they continued to an airdrop zone to notionally evacuate causalities before returning to their forward operating base for a debrief of the DUMOC and preparatory brief of the NUMOC that night.
The tactics, techniques and procedures for the exercise were designed by the battalion’s commanding officer and sergeant major, and the training scenarios were set up by Marines with TTECG, who trained the unit to respond to scenarios they may see in theater, Dennison said.
“This is their first time out of the wire [for training],” said Dennison, a Massillon, Ohio, native. “This exercise will help them be more combat ready. So far, they are very involved and very professional.”
Lt. Col. Mike P. Rohlfs, CLB-1’s commanding officer, said his Marines hit the ground running and took the training very seriously.
“This is a great learning opportunity not only for the individual Marine, but also for our staff to interact and make sure we keep communicating up the chain of command,” said Rohlfs, a Virginia Beach, Va., native. “The sergeant major and I are trying to get our Marines as much training as possible because this is their opportunity to make mistakes in a training environment, get immediate feedback and keep doing the same things until they get it right.”
Dennison said he was impressed with the unit’s performance, and purposefully threw curve balls at them to test their skills and knowledge.
“Sometimes when a unit is doing particularly well, we’ll take out some of their key leaders to see how the Marine next in charge handles the situation and pressure.”
After exercises like these, Dennison said he and other TTECG instructors take the unit aside and debrief leaders and junior Marines on how they did.
“We don’t focus on what the unit did well,” Dennison said. “We focus on and discuss a lot about their recovery tactics and refinement processes.”
Lance Cpl. Mitchell McCaughan, a fiscal clerk with Security Platoon, CLB-1, said he learned a great deal about the importance of awareness and working as a team.
“This [training] presents you with the worst case scenario, and I think that’s the best part about it,” said McCaughan, an Auburn, Wash., native. “Everything gets thrown at you. The coyotes [instructors] know exactly what you don’t want to happen and they present it to you to see how you handle it. Anyone can talk about how they would do something, but being here actually doing it is a damn good thing.”
The NUMOC portion of the training kicked off after dark, and presented Marines with scenarios similar to DUMOC, but rather RPG rounds were used instead of IEDs, said Sgt. Maj. Richard M. Charron, the CLB-1 sergeant major.
“The units typically score seven points or higher on the NUMOC, even with having the disadvantage of darkness,” said Charron, a Blairstown, N.J., native. “I think that reflects how well the coyotes train the Marines.
“They want more training,” said Charron about the unit. “As soon as these guys were done, they wanted to do it again. They’re really retaining the data and we’re not going to leave until they master this.”
Lance Cpl. Christian Sealock, a military policeman with Security Platoon, CLB-1, said although he has participated in training similar to this at Camp Pendleton, the DUMOC and NUMOC offered something the unit couldn’t find elsewhere.
“We didn’t have this heat and this range is on a much larger scale,” said Sealock, a Cambridge, Ohio, native. “We’re seeing how we work as a whole team and are starting to understand each individual’s job within the team.”
Charron said the training is challenging his Marines in a practical and beneficial way.
“It will help them look forward and build their confidence not only in themselves, but also in their teams,” Charron said. “[The training] will bring unit cohesiveness, help us develop good habits and get us ready to go into the fight.”