Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
The Combat Center Commanding General Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, along with his wife, Donna, made their first command visit to the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., Feb 25.
The couple welcomed the brisk 28-degree weather once they landed at the Minden-Tahoe Airport in Douglas County, Nev.
Berger and his wife then traveled to Pickel Meadows, home of the MCMWTC. During the hour-long van ride Sgt. Maj. James Kirkland, MCMWTC sergeant major, updated Berger on the personnel and the surrounding area, to include the recreational areas Marines and sailors utilize, like Topaz Lake, Squaw Valley and the Walker River. These areas attract high volumes of travelers based on the outdoor life the area promotes.
It’s a highly attractive area to the Marines and there are plenty of outdoor activities, Kirkland said.
During the visit, the Bergers spent lunch with Col. J. J. Carroll Jr., commanding officer, MCMWTC. Carroll’s wife Brande, and Kirkland also joined for lunch.
Berger and Carroll’s casual conversations were filled with stories of their old units, common acquaintances and the experiences the Marines, sailors, civilian employees and their dependents encounter during their duration in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
“We had eight feet of snow in eight days,” Carroll recalled during lunch. “Most recently we had a Jane Wayne Day where they got to shoot M-16s.”
Conversation soon turned to the reason for the day’s visit. Carroll and Berger began a dialogue about the facilities, training courses and areas before they arrived at Exercise Control.
Berger received a detailed brief about the Winter Mountain Leaders Course 1-13, other courses MCMWTC has to offer and 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment’s current training tempo in the mountains.
“Aside from the technical aspects of what a unit gets out of being up here, the small unit leaders, confidence building and team cohesion is just as important and in some cases, more important than any technical part,” Berger said. “That is what will establish the baseline for their deployment. If that command team can pull together his team in 30 days, up here, at least he’s on the right road.”
Berger continued his tour the next day to key facilities around MCMWTC. He first stopped at the multipurpose building where classes and graduations are held to hear about the renovations and energy saving upgrades the building will hold in the spring of 2013.
“We’re going to have 480 kilowatts of solar power,” said Navy Lt. Adam Gerlach, resident officer in charge of construction, MCMWTC. “Right now our base capacity is only 12 (kilowatts). That’s an order of magnitude difference, around 400 percent. We’re going from nine boiler heaters to around one or two. The big thing is the solar; it’s huge for this base.”
From there, Berger visited the stables where 31 mules, 15 horses and a donkey are held. He spoke with the air officer, Capt. Jonathan Geisler, about the aviation side of MCMWTC and visited squad bays, the motor pool and facilities maintenance.