Marines clear Fort Pickett’s Urban Assault Course
As a door flings open two Marines rush in with their weapons drawn and pointed forward. The second Marine through the door shoulder-checks it, to force it to remain open.
They shout one after another: “Left side clear!” “Right side clear!”
The training stops. Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Alvarez calls the two Marines out of the room. He critiques their techniques, gives them feedback and makes them do it again.
The Marines of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, spent Sept. 9-11, conducting Military Operations in Urban Terrain, also called MOUT, on Fort Pickett’s Urban Assault Course.
The three days of training focused on enhancing the unit’s MOUT capabilities, the processes of tactically clearing rooms of enemy combatants, at the fireteam, squad and platoon levels, according to Alvarez, an infantry unit leader with 1st Platoon.
“The purpose of this training is to make sure we are proficient in MOUT operations, and able to carry them out anywhere the Marine Corps needs,” he said.
To do that, the Marines focused on enhancing the abilities of their junior Marines by forcing them to perform numerous rehearsals under the guidance of their senior leadership.
“If their technique is messed up, we’ll stop them and have them reset,” said Sgt. Justin Orange, the 2nd Platoon Guide. “We will show them the basic technique for it, and they will adjust off what we show them.”
Sometimes the sergeants would be in the stacks, sometimes they would be off to the side observing, but they always worked to correct the junior Marines deficiencies at the end of each rehearsal.
The training progressed from clearing rooms, to clearing rooms with live ammunition. The live-fire shoots prepare the Marines for actual combat by giving them a firsthand experience as to how it feels to shoot while clearing rooms, according to Orange.
“It gets them set up so they are more comfortable to shoot, if they have to do it in a combat situation,” Orange said.
The Marines also trained during the night, performing rehearsals and live-fire shoots. The night shoots took place to give the Marines a chance to shoot using night vision goggles while maneuvering in an area without verbal communication.
“This is a chance for them to use their optics and work as a fireteam at night,” said 1st Lt. Justin Nabozna, Weapons Platoon commander. “Obviously it gives us a huge advantage if we’re the only ones who can see at night.”
The training was a smaller part of the battalion’s Deployment for Training exercises that took place Sept. 6-23, on Fort Pickett. The DFT served to prepare the Marines for the missions they will conduct as the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Battalion Landing Team.
Article by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein, 24th MEU