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A Marine with Battery G, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, stands guard in a training town during the Clear, Hold, Build training aboard the Combat Center Aug. 9, 2011.

Photo by Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu

Camp Pendleton unit prepares for warfighting at Combat Center

2 Sep 2011 | Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu

Marines and sailors with Battery G, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, completed their provisional infantry training in the Combat Center’s training area Aug. 9, 2011.

At the start of their exercise, the battery swept though, cleared and captured a town. They were met with simulated enemy indirect fire. The simulated mortar fire was part of Battery G’s training for fending off insurgent attacks.

The exercise, called Clear, Hold and Build 4, is one of four training exercises within Enhanced Mojave Viper, the Corps’ premier pre-deployment training event, that tests units’ combat abilities.

Each of the CHBs is broken into three phases.

Infantrymen empty a village of insurgents during the “clear” phase. This is the stage most associated with raids and fire fights.

Marines stabilize the village during the “hold” stage, ensuring that it is safe for evacuated citizens to return. The “build” stage is when the town returns, repairs from battle damage begin and the troops foster relationships with the local population.

The four CHB exercises follow a crawl, walk, run schedule. Each one builds on the one before it. The first three are more kinetic in that they help build up the different core competencies the Marines need to act as America’s middle-weight response force. The CHBs also refine integration between the air and ground elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force before the units deploy to combat zones.

The culminating CHB-4 segment tests the Marines’ skills in a dynamic urban battlefield. Success depends on their civilian interactions.

Battery G is unique in that they are going to have to operate their M777 howitzers as well as provide their own fire and maneuver, said Lt. Col. Joseph Allena, the battalion’s commander.

The battery also had help in locating improvised explosive devices from role players acting as Afghan nationals during their CHB-4 exercise. The battery practiced their skills in interacting with the nationals and defended the town from counter-insurgency efforts.

“The Marines were a bit out of their comfort zone, but Battery G is doing well in their provisional rifle company position,” said Capt. Matthew Agnoli, the operations officer for 2/11.

The role Battery G played in this exercise is going to be very similar to the role they will play in their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in the fall.

“I just tied my boots, put my boot blouses on, and the second I know, I hear the mortar going off and rounds going off,” said Pfc. Michael Yanez, a radio operator with 2/11, at the start of the fire fight in the morning. “It was like clockwork. Snap, my gear was on.”

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