USS RUSHMORE, At sea -- It's a muggy humid morning and Marines
with 4th Platoon, Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd
Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit,
stand on the flight deck in a stacked formation ready to rehearse
room clearing techniques.
“Alright gent's let's run it
again,” said Sgt. Chad Skaggs to his platoon.
hesitation the Marines burst into action. They move through
simulated rooms shouting “Clear!” Every move is swift and
calculated. Everyone in the fire team aware of each other's
movements, almost as if it were a ballet, and soon the rehearsal is
On a daily basis Marines with BLT 3/1, 15th MEU, work
tirelessly to stay combat ready while deployed on Western Pacific
Deployment 15-1 aboard the USS Rushmore (LSD 47).
Prior to deploying, Marines with BLT 3/1, 15th MEU, underwent an
extensive training period to prepare them for military operations in
mountainous terrain, urban terrain, as well as amphibious
operations, noncombatant evacuations, and humanitarian assistance.
USS RUSHMORE, At sea - U.S. Marines with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, rehearse urban operation tactics aboard USS Rushmore at sea in the Pacific Ocean, June 1, 2015. BLT 3/1 constantly trains for the unknown in order to respond to the needs of the MEU while deployed. These drills keep the Marines in a constant state of combat readiness while at sea. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos)
“We've spent the past couple of months training and
working our guys up to meet the standards the MEU commander
has set,” said Gunnery Sgt. Arthur Abrego Jr., a company
gunnery sergeant with Kilo Company, BLT 3/1, 15th MEU. “The
goal now is to maintain that readiness so we can carry out
anything that is asked of us.”
The Marines' training
consists of combat lifesaving skills, Marine Corps Martial
Arts, military operations in urban terrain, and physical
fitness, as well as small-unit tactics.
Kilo Company's squad
leaders make sure their Marines know their craft and
maintain a state of readiness.
“One of the
differences between a MEU deployment and a combat deployment
is that you're not sure what you're going to be asked to do,
so making sure your Marines are ready for that is essential
to being successful,” said Sgt. Paul A. Luna, a squad leader
with Kilo Co., BLT 3/1.
“That can be kind of tricky
when you're confined to a ship. The threat of Marines
becoming complacent is there, so as a squad leader you have
to get creative with your training, and constantly reinforce
a combat mindset to your Marines.”
Doing what Marines
are known to do best - improvising, adapting and overcoming
- they make the most of the limited space available aboard
the USS Rushmore. With the help of engineer tape, the layout
of a house quickly appears on the deck.
all tricks you pick up over time,” said Staff Sgt. David
Long, a platoon sergeant with Kilo Co. “Training isn't
limited just because you're in a confined area. You just
adjust; you find a way to make it work. Right now our guys
are getting the same training we would be getting if we were
in the field back at [Camp Pendleton].
In addition to
maintaining a state of combat readiness, Marines are also
developing their professional growth by completing career
progression courses, and reading selections from the
Commandant's Reading List.
Sergeant Chad Skaggs, a
squad leader with Kilo Co., requires his Marines to read a
book, of their choosing from the reading list, and write a
report on knowledge learned.
“Sgt. Skaggs doesn't
want doers, he want's thinkers” said Cpl. Ryan Reardon, a
team leader with Kilo Co.. “Examples of everything he
teaches us are in the books we read. We get to see how
they've actually been used in combat and that translates to
us making better decisions on the battlefield.”
Marines fill their days reinforcing their infantry tactics
by rehearsing as squads on the flight deck, or in the
classroom expanding their professional growth. To ensure
this, squad leaders submit training schedules to their
platoon sergeants who verify every minute of working hours
are scheduled with training and education exercises.
“It really does fall on the squad leader to make sure our
guys our ready,” said Long. “These are the ones putting in
the man hours to make sure they don't become complacent.
It's a huge responsibility, but our guys handle it with
ease, because they know what they're doing.”
none can say what will be asked of these Marines; one thing
is certain, they will be ready when they get the call
because their squad leaders have put in the man hours to
ensure their readiness.
“My job's not to know where
we're going next,” said Luna. “My job's to make sure we're
ready when we get there.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos
Marine Corps News
The U.S. Marines
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