MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group and U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team partnered here Tuesday to improve the joint training and combat readiness of Marine battalion and regimental staffs before they deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The recently completed Spartan Resolve exercise included academic instruction, a command post exercise and a live-fire event.
The training exercise focused on integrating joint, coalition, and interagency partners in a live, virtual, and constructive environment replicating conditions commanders and staffs will experience once deployed, according to leaders at MCTOG.
“The only way you can replicate the environment that you find in Afghanistan and Iraq is to make it joint and interagency,” said Marine Corps Col. William F. Mullen III, the commander of MCTOG. “We want our units going through the training here to have a déjà vu-like experience when they get into theater – we don’t want them to have any surprises.”
An important part of this training equips Marine Corps commanders and staffs with knowledge they need to use the joint combat multipliers at their disposal when deployed, according to MCTOG leaders.
“Our goal is to teach Marines how to plan, integrate, and employ joint fires and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets in a realistic operational environment similar to what they will experience once in theater,” said Marine Lt. Col. Rob Buzby, the executive officer of MCTOG. “It’s a joint fight, and organizations like JFIIT help our Marines learn how to employ joint capabilities that will improve our effectiveness against today’s asymmetric threat.”
JFIIT assisted MCTOG as they trained battalion and regimental staffs by providing joint fires and ISR subject matter experts to help coach, teach, and mentor during Spartan Resolve.
“MCTOG does an excellent job of integrating joint assets to replicate a near-real-world environment,” said Army Maj. John Bowman, the JFIIT lead at MCTOG. “Our mission is to help integrate the joint enablers of the targeting process that teach, and reinforce tactics, techniques and procedures that will shorten their learning curve once in country.”
Spartan Resolve also provided immediate training feedback to the commanders and staffs throughout the exercise.
“By working together with JFIIT and others, we’re able to provide a realistic training environment and feedback methodology that is based on current doctrine and TTP being used in theater,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Tim Barrick, the operations officer for MCTOG. “The lessons that the Marines learn here are a vital part of the unit’s pre-deployment training.”
Other organizations supporting this training were the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Central Intelligence Agency, Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Operations Integration Center, National Ground Intelligence Center, U.S. Agency for International Development, International Committee of the Red Cross, and others.
“The strength of this exercise is our ability to pull in so many experts who represent many of the same organizations that our Marines will work with in theater,” said Scott Campbell, the joint exercise planner at MCTOG. “It’s the only exercise that provides this kind of training to our battalion and regimental staffs before they deploy.”
The primary training audience may be the Marines, but other services also value this joint training experience.
“I will be able to apply the lessons that I’ve learned from this exercise to better plan and execute future training events,” said Army Maj. Brian Ferguson, the assistant fire support coordinator for 10th Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. “The training here has helped me achieve a higher level of understanding of how to conduct joint operations.”
MCTOG plans to continue integration of joint assets preparing Marines for today’s irregular warfare environment.
"This training is a necessity for any unit that wants to fight in today's operational environment," added Buzby. "Today's operating environment requires Marines to have an open mind and an absolute willingness to work with others. We will only fight and win as a joint team -- taht integration will be the key to our success today and on future battlefields."