MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – --
As Marines traveled through Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain towns, they were constantly kept on their toes. Improvised explosive devices were a serious threat, every Afghan citizen was suspicious, every weapon at the ready. This was a small taste of the reality Marines face on the true battlefield.
Second Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, made its mark on Exercise Steel Knight at Combat Center Range 215 Oct. 11. Exercise Steel Knight is a large-scale combined arms exercise where Marines train as a competent Marine Air Ground Task Force, and for its upcoming deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“The main purpose of our training out here [at the Combat Center] is to increase the individual and collective skills of our small unit leadership, which will in turn increase combat proficiency,” said 1st Lt. Gerald I. Noe, the executive officer for Company G, 2nd Bn., 4th Marines.
The “Magnificent Bastards” went through squad live-fire attacks, mechanized attacks, and counterinsurgency and are currently training for military operations on urbanized terrain, Noe said.
The training Co. G does prepares them for the variety of missions or tasks the 11th MEU might have in store, said the Lakewood, Colo., native.
As the Marines and sailors made their way through the MOUT town clearing buildings and cordoning off areas, they encountered improvised explosive devices and local nationals played by Marines.
“What they have available to us, as far as what we’re seeing out in country, is more realistic every day,” said Cpl. Joshua Hoblit, a squad leader for Co. G, 2nd Bn., 4th Marines.
“It gives the Marines a better idea of what they’re going to see,” Hoblit added. “Not every incident is going to be the same, but they’ll have a base line to use,” added the Hagerstown, Ind., native. “Operating out here and having role players working that situation for us, makes us think a little more about what we’re doing.”
With their upcoming deployment closing in, 2nd Bn., 4th Marines, took to the Combat Center’s variety of training eagerly.
“I think [the Combat Center] is one of the best Marine bases that we have,” said Hoblit. “We’re allowed to operate on bigger scales. It gives a bigger picture for the Marines to use. Some of the conventional methods that we’re using are battalion-wide and this is one of the better places to actually get a view of the full scale of what’s actually going on.”