MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines
at the Combat Center
hosted soldiers from the U. S. Army Reserve 358th Civil Affairs Group
from Riverside, Calif., for pre-mobilization training at the installation’s Battle Simulation Center at Camp Wilson Nov. 5 and 6.
“They originally came to do the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer, which is mandatory for all Marine Corps units deploying to Iraq [and Afghanistan],” said Gunnery Sgt. Hector Viramontes, a tactics instructor at the simulation center. “Once we showed them everything we could train them in, they jumped on the opportunity.”
Viramontes, a Los Angeles native, said they used both humvee and Mine Resistant Armor Protected Egress Trainers, or MET, as well as virtual combat convoy training, along with the classes.
The Combat Center will play a vital role in the soldiers’ pre-deployment training, Viramontes said.
“They’re Army Reserves, so they don’t get a chance to do this training a lot in Riverside,” he said. “They’re close to our location and they need the training before they deploy.”
Viramontes said the training will benefit everyone in the military since we fight a common foe.
“It’s no problem training them or anyone else,” he said. “We’ve trained allies from other countries, as well as our Coast Guard and the Navy. We’re all fighting the same fight here.”
Soldiers training at the Combat Center said they appreciated the hospitality.
“The Marines have been really great since we’ve gotten here,” said Army Staff Sgt. Thomas Andino, a civil affairs specialist with the unit. “They’ve helped out with everything from billeting, chow and the great training we’ve gotten since arriving here.”
Andino said training at the Combat Center allows their unit to be closer to home and their families.
“All the training here is great because we didn’t have to go to New Jersey, which is where we’re going to mobilize out of,” he said. “We can spend more time at home. Plus, these facilities are great; we don’t have these at either base.”
Leadership in the unit saw the value of the training, from the tactics they refined to the camaraderie they gained.
“This training is our first time working together as a team,” said U. S. Army Capt. Sean Hong, a civil affairs officer slated to deploy with the unit, who is also from Riverside. “We got a lot more than we were looking for with the training, and we were able to work together as a team and build ourselves up as a unit.”
The unit will continue their pre-mobilization and pre-deployment training before their scheduled departure for Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom later this year.