Twentynine Palms -- Marines attending Infantry Officer Course, based out of Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., conducted Exercise Talon Reach aboard the Combat Center and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 21-23, 2016.
Officers awaiting training at Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School and Marine Corps Intelligence School participated in the exercise, for the first time, to create a mutually beneficial learning environment. Additionally, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 and Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group supported the exercise to further broaden the scope of the training.
“The IOC students are finishing up their course with Exercise Talon Reach,” said Capt. Andrew Krebs, instructor, IOC. “What we are trying to do is give them exposure to the [Marine Air Ground Task Force] in terms of certain mission sets they may need to execute in the future.”
The students conducted urban patrolling lane training at the squad and platoon levels at Range 220, the Combat Center’s largest military operations on urbanized terrain facility. They also trained in counter-improvised explosive device and cordon and search tactics.
Concurrently, IOC students located at MCAS Yuma rehearsed command operations center activities, tested communications and prepared for the use of new and innovative technologies. Through the collaboration of different organizations, the future leaders were introduced to a broader image of the functions of a MAGTF.
“We like the students to witness how intelligence drives operations and how advanced communication planning allows them to integrate with the rest of the MAGTF,” Krebs said. “It really gives them experience with some of the problems and solutions they will encounter in the MAGTF, specifically with the incorporation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) integration with close-air support and the communication architecture that goes along with it.”
According to Capt. Terry Traylor, operations officer, Company D, Communications Training Battalion, MCCES, the integration between MCCES and IOC provides the future infantry officers with the basic understanding of information warfare and how it supports the ground combat element.
“This is a tactical level operation so we are simulating what information warfare effects do on a tactical level,” Traylor said. “We have a live link out to the DoD Cyber Security Range out at [MCB] Quantico, Va., where we are affecting virtual targets while these Marines are on the ground. They can immediately take that experience and go straight to deployment. For the communications students, they are now learning how they can support these guys.”
In order to adapt to the ever-evolving nature of warfare, IOC students learned techniques to counter enemy UAS as well as the means to incorporate various advanced technologies in order to increase digital inoperability, such as the Marine Air Ground Tablet, a tablet with the ability to coordinate indirect fires on the ground, currently utilized by Marines in the fleet. MCTOG concept development observed the process as part of an effort to standardize the most efficient methods of training future Marines in the use of these technologies.
“At concept development and innovation, one of the concepts we have been tasked with is command and control with a tactical edge,” said Maj. Paul Tremblay, concept development and innovation head, MCTOG. “In line with what Marine Corps Warfighting Labs has been exploring with the Sea Dragon 2025 initiative and the technologies they are experimenting with, we are trying to build a framework around how the GCE will integrate digital inoperability initiatives with the attachments to realize tactical networking down to the squad level.”
With these new steps towards innovation, the future leaders of the Corps will be better prepared to serve their roles as Marine Corps staff officers and commanders across the Fleet Marine Force.
“This is their initial exposure to this technology and integration, so if they find themselves on a Special Purpose MAGTF or a [Marine Expeditionary Force] they can hit the ground running,” Tremblay said. “It’s an exciting time in the Marine Corps. We are really capturing and thinking over those lessons learned in the echoes of battle.”