MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, completed their iteration of the Integrated Training Exercise here two weeks ago. They’ve been deemed ready by the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, but they still have a few steps to take before they are fully good to go.
“I think our ITX went pretty well and we’re one step closer to being deployed,” said Staff Sgt. Sourinha Phakousonh, platoon sergeant, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “They’re well trained and they’ve been training for the past six, seven months and we’re still hitting them hard.”
“In the end, (logistics) turns out to be the most important step,” said Sgt. Zachariah Korte, squad leader, Co. I, 3/7. “Behind all the training and all the work we do, if we don’t have (logisitics) all taken care of, then it’s pretty much all for nothing, because you just spend all your time trying to fix all these problems you created for yourself. It’s a pretty huge step in the deployment process.”
There is a lot to get done before a unit is officially ready to deploy. There are small things like making sure their paperwork is in order, and the completion of medical and dental checkups. It is also the time when Marines and sailors will check their gear for mission readiness. But more importantly, this is the time when service members will make sure their family members are ready for them to deploy.
“We’ve got a lot of checklists we’re going through right now,” Phakousonh said. “It’s all to get the families and Marines ready for the deployment.”
One thing missed in this stage can cause larger problems further down the road. A missed form here or a piece of gear unaccounted for can lead to trouble once deployed. It’s important for the whole chain of command to know the status of their Marines.
“We have to make sure that everyone is 100 percent on everything,” said Sgt. Zachary Harbing, squad leader. Co. I, 3/7, “(If we don’t), it will take away from our time in country and combat power, because it pulls Marines back to take care of that stuff while we’re there. It’s much harder to do it there because, we’re half a world away.”
The Marines of the “Cutting Edge” are doing everything they need to in making sure that this deployment to Afghanistan runs smoothly. They will finish all their paper work, triple-check all their gear and kiss their loved ones goodbye as they depart in the coming weeks.