MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- “About once a month, we have to do something that tests things like cohesion, morale, teamwork and leadership,” said Lt. Col Matt Goode, commanding officer, 3rd LAR. “We try to do something like a field meet that incorporates basic combat skills, the ability to communicate and the ability to shoot under duress.”
The field meet commenced at Del Valle Field at approximately 6:30 a.m. with each team departing the field two minutes apart. Each team’s objective was to complete the competition in a timely manner, while working together.
“I think it brings a lot of camaraderie within the companies,” said 1st Lt. Brian Hua, assistant operations officer, 3rd LAR. “It’s internal competition, which is good because it’s a Marine’s job to want to be the best.”
For the competition Marines and sailors were broken down by companies, sections, squads and platoons. The four-hour event included seven different challenges. Competition kicked off with squad physical training and ended with a buddy-carry run to Del Valle Field. In between those events there was a call-for-fire station, a marksmanship event, and an event testing their knowledge on basic operations of the M240B medium machinegun.
“It’s really beneficial in the infantry field because this is stuff you would see if you actually got deployed anywhere. There’s combat fatigue, you have to shoot, you have casualties,” said Cpl. David Christopher McCaslin, light armor vehicle crewman, 3rd LAR. “Anybody in a combat [military occupational specialty] field can get a feel for combat and even the people who aren’t can experience the day-to-day life of an infantryman.”
Marines and sailors are expected to accomplish the mission no matter the circumstances. Training like this preserves the readiness of the battalion.
“I think it keeps you more in the mindset of actually having to perform in many aspects,” said Cpl. Eric Ostrand, LAV crewman, 3rd LAR. “It’s about mentally focusing on yourself and the men to your right and left.”
Not only does the competition boost camaraderie, it also provides the men with a platform to say ‘I was the best at this.’ There’s pride within the unit, and the battalion doing something strenuous together and experiencing the shared hardship brings them together as a whole.
“We try to simulate the stresses of combat as much as we can,” Hua said. “So being able to work together here and to communicate and exercise team work in this environment is a good picture of how they’ll perform in combat.”