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Marines with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, scan Combat Center Range 200 during the observation portion of the Combat Hunter Course here Jan. 22. The course's curriculum is broken up into three key elements; combat tracking, combat patrolling and observation.

Photo by Cpl. R. Logan Kyle

First Team on the hunt

28 Jan 2010 | Cpl. R. Logan Kyle

A Marine, clad in camouflage utilities and bearing a full combat load, discovers a set of shoeprints leading away from the remnants of a destroyed military vehicle. Slowly contemplating his next move, he tracks the patterns to a nearby village where he watches and observes its inhabitants. After gathering intelligence, he and his comrades launch an assault with clear knowledge of who the enemy is, eliminating any chance of escape. He is a warrior. He is a hunter.

After dozens of hours in the classroom, Marines with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, completed the third phase of the Combat Hunter Course during practical application exercises in observation at Combat Center Range 200 here Jan. 22.

            Combat Hunter is the creation of a mindset through enhanced observation, combat patrolling and combat tracking in order to produce a more ethically minded, tactically cunning and lethal Marine, according to the course’s Web site,

            The course was established in August 2007, and is continuing to establish itself among several Marine Corps installations.

            Staff Sgt. Joshua Morris, an instructor with Mobile Training Co., School of Infantry-West at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., said the Marines’ observation training was the most important part of the evolution.

            “All the elements of Combat Hunter go together,” said Morris, a native of Monument, Colo. “But being able to understand what you’re looking for and keeping an open mind to see things in ways you normally wouldn’t is the foundation of this course.”

            Morris and the rest of the instructors travel throughout the world to teach Marines how to be combat hunters.

            The Marines’ objective was to observe role players and identify high value targets, individuals who intend to cause harm to the local populous or coalition forces, in the range’s Military Operations on Urban Terrain town. The Marines also used their observation posts to identify key leaders throughout the community.

            Cpl. Caleb Williams, a team leader with Weapons Co., said the course helped his unit work well as a team.

            “The biggest thing I’ll take away from this training is always being situationally aware, remembering to look for abnormalities out in the base line, being a hunter and being proactive instead of reactive to situations,” said Williams, a native of Huntington, Texas.

            The observation training exercise was cut from two days to only about four hours of practical application time due to a series of storms which struck the area last week, but Morris said it had little effect on the mission.

            “Inclement weather is not uncommon for us,” Morris said. “Since we are a mobile unit, we train Marines in several different climates so we’re able to adjust to it quickly.”

            Capt. Lewis Langella, an instructor with Mobile Training Co., SOI-West, said Weapons Co. performed enthusiastically throughout the training.

            “They’re one of the best units we’ve seen,” said Langella, a native of Branford, Conn. “They’re really into the training, and have a real hunger to learn and deploy abroad to get the job done.”

            Langella also said the Marines need to continue to work on their observation skills.

            In some training scenarios, role players distracted the observers with an attention-grabbing situation while other role players would set up more booby traps or pop off sniper rounds.

            Williams referred to the distraction as the ‘Kansas City Shuffle.’

            “We didn’t always see everything that was going on in the town,” he said. “But that’s why we train - to minimize and eliminate those mistakes.”

            To see a video of the training, visit

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