MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Desert Scimitar is an annual two-week, division-level exercise designed to give units within 1st Marine Division the opportunity to test their command and control maneuver, and logistical capabilities in a setting that effectively represents the scope of an actual battle. This year was the fifteenth iteration since its inception in 2001.
“The exercise gives the division an idea of its capabilities and what it needs to work on,” said 1st Lt. Ben Nicholas, executive officer, Company A, 3rd LAR. “Like a machine, it has gears that need oiling from time to time.”
Many operations that 3rd LAR participates are at the company or battalion level. Desert Scimitar gives units within the Division the opportunity to work collectively as a Marine Air Ground Task Force.
“The reconnaissance performed by 3rd LAR provides the division with valuable information on the enemy,” Nicholas said. “This function is invaluable in aiding the division, so it can know how to best make use of its assets.”
During the exercise, 3rd LAR participated in exercises that simulated missions they could potentially perform in real-world scenarios, which include security and reconnaissance operations for larger forces, such as 1st Tank Battalion and 11th Marine Regiment. In addition to multiple live-fire events and setting up a defensive line for artillery, they also engaged in a division-level tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission.
“It helps us take into consideration how much coordination and planning is needed [to perform our mission],” Nicholas said. “It’s an opportunity to flex our muscles and see what we are capable of.”
As part of the exercise, 3rd LAR was also tasked with establishing a combat operation center to set up communications with the division.
“The forward COC provides us with recovery, [medical evacuation], and communications capabilities,” said Capt. Brian Hua, assistant operations officer, 3rd LAR. “It functions as a link to the division with greater mobility.”
The exercise challenged the division’s ability to restore stability during times of crisis by simulating a host nation during an invasion or times of high internal conflict.
“We practice stabilizing operations to aid countries that might need our help,” Hua said. “By training with mission in mind, we can ready ourselves for real-life situations.”
The units participating in Desert Scimitar alongside 3rd LAR include: 1st Marine Division Headquarters, 7th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, as well as 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and 1st Marine Logistics Group.