MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The full moon shone as dozens of light-armored vehicles quietly sat idle in the still of night. At first, only a faint breeze could be heard until one by one, the LAVs fired up and collectively spilled a climbing rumble across the desert. Four hours from their objective and five from the break of dawn, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion set forth on a unique multi-installation training exercise that would culminate across miles of desert, outside of the Combat Center, at an abandoned prison.
From May 12 to May 17, 1st Marine Division is conducting a large-scale, combined-arms, live-fire exercise integrating aviation and logistical support, known as Desert Scimitar. This operation includes a mock raid of Boron Prison Complex during a training exercise, encompassing training at the Combat Center, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., Fort Irwin National Training Center and the prison.
“Our mission was to conduct a battalion-level raid on Division objective one, the Boron Prison,” said Sgt. Sean Krauss, battalion commander’s gunner, Jump Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd LAR. “The main effort was made by (Company C), artillery and engineers.”
The unit began at the Combat Center and traveled through the base, exiting at the northwest boundary of the training area. After posting at an off-base location, the raid was to ensue in the early hours of the next morning.
“Exiting the base through the northwest boundary was somewhat of a first and kind of unique,” said Lt. Col. Matt Good, battalion commander, 3rd LAR. “It also required a great deal of coordination by the MCAGCC staff.”
During the exercise, artillery fired notional rounds followed by C Co. rushing the objective.
“It was a known enemy position that was equipped with anti-aircraft radar, which meant they couldn’t perform a helo raid so, they used 3rd LAR,” Krauss said. “Once they were there, they conducted sensitive-site exploitation, which is where they obtain additional intelligence or information.”
When they arrived however, the prison was no longer abandoned. Role-players occupied the complex, armed with rifles, waiting to greet the Marines by firing blank rounds.
“First Marine Division provided the role players at the Boron Prison and that helped to make things much more realistic,” Krauss said. “The Marines had never been out here before, so the fact that it was a completely new environment made it that much more challenging for them. Getting off base and being able to travel far distances to get to the objective adds a lot to the training.”
Once the raid was completed, the unit pulled back to Tactical Assembly Area 3 at MCLB Barstow to reconsolidate, refuel and exploit the labors of the training exercise.
“This was a limited offensive operation that really allowed us to work out necessary muscles like the ability to go long distances and to be self-sufficient by recovering, re-fueling and re-arming ourselves,” Good said. “We also trained to be able to communicate with higher- headquarters throughout the entire iteration because we know that an asset without communication is a liability.”
During Desert Scimitar, 1st Marine Division acted as the headquarters element for a forward-deployed Marine expeditionary force, which allowed it to test and refine its command and control capabilities.
“First Marine Division built this exercise for us so that we could come all the way out here to realistically train and it required a lot of coordination with the Bureau of Land Management and local law enforcement all between (Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow), and Twentynine Palms,” Good said. “A lot of people’s efforts went into making this happen and we can’t thank them enough for all of their hard work.”
Units participating in Desert Scimitar include: Marines and sailors from 1st Marine Division Headquarters, 1st Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Regiment, 7th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Tank Battalion, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, as well as elements from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and 1st Marine Logistics Group, according to a press release by 1st Marine Division Public Affairs Office.
Photos, stories and video packages are being uploaded throughout the exercise to www.dvidshub.net/unit/1md