MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., --
Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene, N.C., began their Clear, Hold, Build 4 exercise at Range 220 Dec. 12, 2011.
The four-step CHB exercises prepare infantry units for future deployments by simulating fighting conditions. They are trained in countering improvised explosive devices, patrolling, role player scenarios and helicopter operations.
The 1/8 Marines and sailors, scheduled to deploy early next year, began their training at the Combat Center Nov. 11 and progressed from CHB-1 through to CHB-4.
Each stage of the exercise implemented a different type of training, such as coordination of artillery and aerial support or battalion defense, leading up to the CHB-4, where all the parts are put together.
“It helps us gain a little more confidence,” said Seaman Elwyn Holt, hospital corpsman, Company B, 1/8.
CHB-4 was a culmination of all the training the Marines received during their pre-deployment exercise in the Combat Center’s Enhanced Mojave Viper.
Marines responded to their environment as they would in battle.
The Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, which runs EMV, incorporated Afghan role players into the operations to simulate the closest possible model of the overseas environment the Marines will encounter during a future deployment.
These role players dressed, spoke and acted the part of Afghan nationals. They played civilians, security forces and tribal elders simulating different situations Marines may come across.
“It’s great for these guys to be able to talk to people from Afghanistan and pick up on the culture,” said 1st Lt. Jason W. Blydel, executive officer, Co. A, 1/8. “It’s a pretty big impact having those guys out there helping us.”
Through the pouring rain and freezing winds, Marines kept their focus on the mission at hand, clearing buildings and rooms. They carried themselves as they would on deployment, cautious of every building and every person.
“The guys have been going hard at it since day one,” said Blydel, still drenched from the rain. “Only a couple days left out in the rain, they’re still going pretty hard, and they’re going to finish strong.”