Marines with Amphibious Assault Vehicle Company conducted patrolling and military operations in urban terrain at Camp Hansen’s Combat Town Jan. 9.
The weeklong exercise was designed to maintain proficiency as a provisional infantry company in preparation for the upcoming Exercise Cobra Gold 2012.
Leading the Marines through the training was 1st Lt. Michael B. Owens, platoon commander for AAV Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Owens explained the importance of the training.
“We came out here to get some advanced provisional infantry training and make use of assets that aren’t normally available to us at Camp Pendleton, Calif., like the helicopter insert, (special effects small-arms marking rounds) and the jungle,” said Owens.
Training was scheduled to consist of a helicopter insert, followed by a patrol through the jungle, and ending with a close-quarters assault. Unfortunately, the cloud cover was too low for helicopters to fly safely. The Marines were instead transported by 7-ton trucks and resumed training without missing a beat.
While disembarking from the trucks, the Marines began to patrol the road to their objective. After a few hundred meters, the squads left the road and headed into the jungle.
Traversing the jungle, the Marines moved into concealed positions around the town. During the assault, each of the town’s buildings were systematically entered and cleared. After all buildings had been cleared, the mock operation ended for the day and the Marines were debriefed.
“The purpose of this exercise was to get the Marines away from our typical job as AAV crewman and hone our infantry skills,” said Cpl. Robert Hildebrand, a team leader and assistant squad leader for the training.
During the previous day, the company received instruction on patrolling, military operations in urban terrain, land navigation and squad communications.
Hildebrand commented on how the exercise was also a good way to pass knowledge from senior to junior Marines. All the instruction given was taught by noncommissioned officers who have had prior combat experience, said Hildebrand.
As a result, intensity was high and communication was good, especially when moving through the town, said Hildebrand.
Since tracked units are no longer being deployed to Afghanistan, they are more likely to be used as infantry now, said Owens. It is important that the AAV company gets out and trains as much as possible to improve these skills.
These exercises have a secondary use to the company by breaking up the daily routine of maintenance of its vehicles. In an environment as humid as Okinawa, rust builds up faster than normal, said Owens. The maintenance on the AAVs can become monotonous quickly.
As a result of the classes, live exercises and training in the jungle environment, the AAV Marines of 3rd Marine Division will be able to effectively patrol through the jungle and assault urban environments when called upon, said Hildebrand.
Article by Pfc. Ian M. McMahon, Marine Corps Bases Japan