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1/8 Marines go back to basics

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Marines shouting “prepping frag,” bellowed as they reached in their pouch to pull out a practice grenade. “Frag out,” they shouted as the practice grenades flew through the air.

The Marines continued to successfully move through the course after confirming the practice grenades hit their targets.

The sound of gun fire and practice grenades whistled through the air echoing across the Combat Training Course at Range G-6 as the spent brass casings and blue bodies of the practice grenades covered the ground. This was just one of the five lanes the Marines would complete throughout the day.

Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division employed several weapon systems at the CTC during a live-fire exercise, Jan. 10. The exercise consisted of many lanes of fire and provided Marines with hands-on training with M69 practice grenades, the M203 grenade launcher and the AT–4 rocket launcher.

The Marines started the course with two days of initial instruction in the classroom followed by a three-day, live-fire exercise.

“The purpose of this course is to train our small-unit leaders within the battalion,” said Alexandria, Va., native 2nd Lt. Nicholas V. Engle, a platoon commander with Company B., 1st Battalion 8th Marines. “Enabling them to go back to their squads and fire-teams and conduct training at that small unit level.”

“The Marines take what they learn here and pass it on to their unit, except at a slower operational tempo to ensure everything is understood, said Springfield, Ill. native, Staff Sgt. Robert Ballance, an infantry trainer with Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – East. “Learning these skills is much easier when Marines aren’t being rushed from one training evolution to the next.”

For some Marines, it was their first time on the range since returning from Afghanistan, and for others, it was a refresher course on some weapons systems they hadn’t used since SOI.

“It was good to go back and familiarize ourselves with the different weapons,” said Marines with Company A., 1/8. “It’s about getting back to the basics and getting refreshed on those skills and events so when we go back to teach our Marines we won’t be overlooking any of the core tactics.”

“The most important thing is that we’re able to take what they’ve learned here, apply it, and pass it on to the Marines under us,” said Nicholas.

Article by Lance Cpl. Melvin Johnson, 2nd Marine Division