MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Since the dawn of warfare, attacking forces have had to oust entrenched defenders, a practice which will continue until the end of war.
The Marines and sailors of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, performed three, platoon-sized exercises against entrenched positions with machine gun support at the Combat Center’s Lead Mountain Saturday.
“We are going against a fortified unknown enemy position,” said 1st Lt. Paul Mayhugh, the 2nd platoon commander for Company G, 2nd Bn., 7th Marines. “We will be moving from our assembly area, and moving up into the attack position and establishing our support by fire positions.”
To improve the effectiveness of the exercises, each platoon was given critiques after each attack.
“Our company commander will be going down range with each platoon, evaluating them,” Mayhugh said. “It is sort of difficult for a platoon commander to evaluate how his platoon is performing because he is so focused on the attack. Ultimately having those outside eyes, from the company commander giving us those learning points, is the most effective way to evaluate these guys today.”
As Capt. Marcelo Castro, the commanding officer of Company G, 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, watched each platoon execute the attack on the entrenched position with an eye for different skills.
“At the individual level we are looking at the fundamentals of marksmanship and their comfort level with the ability to shoot with their buddies to their right and left,” Castro said. “At the platoon commander level we are talking about lapping those fires, the ability to communicate, and command and control not only his platoon but his platoon augmented with machine gunners.”
All of the Marines stressed the importance of the small unit leadership and why it is important in a fight.
“Ultimately, things are not going to go the way we practice and it is not going to go how it was briefed,” said Mayhugh, a Lancaster, Pa. "Things are going to change, so as long as the leaders understand the order they will have the ability to make the decisions at the small unit level and accomplish the mission.”
The leaders added how Marines need a broad idea of what their objective is.
“The platoon commander gives the order and paints the picture of how we are going to attack our enemy or for how they are possibly set up,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Cueva, platoon sergeant for 1st platoon, Co. G, 2nd Bn., 7th Marines. “They are not going out there and fighting the unknown. They have some sort of idea of what’s expected and what’s going to happen to them.”
As the training finishes the Marines and sailors know that the information they learned that day will be used in the not too distant future.
“Our future mission is being a mechanized company for the 31st (Marine Expeditionary Unit) it bottom line dictates that we continue to do exercises like this for once we dismount the (Amphibious Assault Vehicle’s) we close with the enemy,” Castro said. "This is exactly what we are going to be doing and Twentynine Palms provides this type of environment.”