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Members of Congress from the House Armed Services Committee strap into the aircraft during their departure from Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Jan. 28, 2011.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

Bridgeport welcomes Congress members

4 Feb 2011 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, United States Congressman and the Chairman of the House of Armed Services Committee, visited his home 25th district of Calif., along with eight other representatives from the committee. The group made it a point to visit the Marines of the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., Jan. 28.

“My job, as I see it, is to make sure everybody in the military has the things they need to carry out their missions. That’s my mission,” McKeon said. “We have the largest committee in Congress, 62 men and women, and each and every one of us has that as our goal.

“I believe the [MCMWTC] is a very important asset to the military. If you make it here, you can make it anywhere. The training here saves lives,” he said.

The committee members were briefed on recent activity at the base as well as the goals and needs for the future.

Understanding the ambitions and objectives lets Congress know how to effectively support the center and provide the supplies that will further combat readiness, McKeon said.

A display was provided to show the visitors the tools Marines use to find improvised explosive devices, and how the instructors aboard the center teach Marines to use them.

For lunch, the committee members ate at the installation’s chow hall, and sat with Marines from their home states.

“It’s good to know throughout my district there are people serving,” said Rep. Adam Smith, member of Congress for the 9th district of Washington. “It also gives me a feel of what my constituents are doing. It’s nice to talk about things we have in common, areas we know, [and] shared experiences.”

Once the party acquainted themselves with the Marines and had their fill of food, they put on warming layers, loaded up on Tucker Sno-Cats and headed out to the field to observe training.

Second Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment is conducting mountain exercise training and was the observation target of choice for the party. The Marines showed the representatives their bivouac sites, explained how they were built and showed how they live in the cold environment. Also, the party observed the Marines as they learned ski techniques on flat ground.

“It gives us a better understanding of what they need to do their jobs,” Smith said. “We in Congress need to make the decision on what to procure, what to buy and how to equip. It’s not the same, looking at a chart in [Washington D. C.] as it is actually seeing them and speaking to the Marines getting the training.”

All in all, the visit seemed to help the party better understand MWTC’s Marines and the importance of the training they conduct.

“I’ve learned a lot more about what the Marines train for and how they prepare for their job,” Smith said. “It’s also nice to have a day to speak to individual Marines and find out who they are. I really admire how they do their job.”

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