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2nd Lt. Brett Woolard, student, Infantry Officers Course 2-15, posts security atop a building during exercise Talon Reach V at Range 220, March 27, 2015. Talon Reach is a culminating exercise that reinforces Marine Air Ground Task Force operations, introduces air assault planning considerations while leveraging innovative technology. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd/ Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd

Talon Reach V provides essential training for IOC

24 Mar 2015 | Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Prospective infantry officers conducted multi-installation exercise, Talon Reach V, March 24 – 27 as part of Infantry Officer’s Course 2-15. The exercise extended to both the Combat Center and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

“[IOC] is the formal school where we train lieutenants to become platoon commanders in the fleet Marine Corps,” said Capt. Conner Gentil, head training officer, IOC. “Most of these lieutenants will join commands that are part of the Special Purpose [Marine Air Ground Task Force.]”

According to IOC officials, the lieutenants of IOC 2-15 conducted Talon Reach V to gain exposure to MAGTF mission planning and execution. The Marines conducted operations as Company Landing Teams that established and provided security to a semi-permissive urban population with contingencies executed in support of Marines on the ground.

Talon Reach V began with planning and preparation for Marines at both installations. IOC students at MCAS Yuma, Ariz., coordinated with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 instructors in the planning and development of a long-range, vertical insert at Range 220 aboard the Combat Center, approximately 220 nautical miles away.

“Splitting the class gives students the knowledge to teach units they [will be assigned to] a variety of different tactics,” Gentil said.           

IOC students also conducted urban patrolling lane training at the squad and platoon levels at Range 220. They trained in Counter-Improvised Explosive Device and Cordon and Search tactics. Concurrently, IOC students located at MCAS Yuma, Ariz. rehearsed in Command Operations Center activities, tested communications, and prepared for the use of new and innovative technologies.

“Its good training,” said 2nd Lt. Justin Klein, student, IOC 2-15. “We get the opportunity to use [technology] most people don’t even get a chance to see. The more time we spend learning these tools and tactics, the better we can teach them to Marines who will be under our command. We can improve our Marines and make them a more effective fighting force.”

One device used were the Radio Frequency-7800H High-Frequency Wideband Manpack, an HF tactical radio, which offers expanded data capabilities to long-range, beyond-line-of-sight environments and the PRC 117G tablet, a network-enabled, wireless tactical tablet. They also employed unmanned aircraft systems such as the Shadowhawk, Raven and MK-2 Instant Eye, which allowed for effective intelligence gathering. With the use of these drones linked to the tactical tablets, the students were able to experience multifaceted communication on a simulated battlefield by gaining access to interfaced maps of the area.

“Talon Reach is a culminating exercise that allows new lieutenants to get hands on experience,” Gentil said. “The Marine Corps is always coming out with new ways of gathering intelligence and combatting enemy forces. These tools improve on the abilities of the students and the Marines who will be under them.”

Among the achieved objectives of Talon Reach was the introduction to the MAGTF, air assault planning considerations, and understanding that the Ground Combat Element’s ability to develop a complete, ground tactical plan is integral to conducting effective mission execution.

“I see the lieutenants improve drastically over the course of Talon Reach,” Gentil added. “The exercise gives the students a chance to get hands on experience leading patrols, manning a COC and gathering [information] on the enemy.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms