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Soldiers Train Aboard Marine Corps Training Area Bellows
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Harley Thomas - February 28, 2016

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American Pride: Poems Honoring America and Her Patriots! by David G. Bancroft

Soldiers with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, conducted assaults in a military operations on urban terrain training environment, Feb. 5, 2016, aboard Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii.

Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division move to clear a building while conducting assaults in a military operations on urban terrain training environment aboard Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Feb. 5, 2016. The purpose of the training, which served as part of exercise Lightning Forge, a 10-day test of the brigade’s ability to respond at a moment’s notice, was to provide the brigade with an opportunity to test their ability to locate, kill or capture high valued targets while maneuvering in an urban environment. Members of the 25th Infantry Division utilized MCTAB due to its extensive, complex training grounds, which are able to help provide the soldiers with a realistic, high-speed training environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Harley Thomas)
Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division move to clear a building while conducting assaults in a military operations on urban terrain training environment aboard Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Feb. 5, 2016. The purpose of the training, which served as part of exercise Lightning Forge, a 10-day test of the brigade's ability to respond at a moment's notice, was to provide the brigade with an opportunity to test their ability to locate, kill or capture high valued targets while maneuvering in an urban environment. Members of the 25th Infantry Division utilized MCTAB due to its extensive, complex training grounds, which are able to help provide the soldiers with a realistic, high-speed training environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Harley Thomas)

The purpose of the training, which served as part of exercise Lightning Forge, a 10-day test of the brigade's ability to respond at a moment's notice, was to provide the brigade with an opportunity to test their ability to locate, kill or capture a high valued target while maneuvering in an urban environment.

“This exercise is important because we're given the chance to replicate various battlefield conditions to the best of our ability and train in those conditions,” said Cpl. Adam Huntoon, a team leader with 2nd Squadron. “When you have scenarios such as this in areas like this, it really helps paint a vivid picture, especially for those who have not yet deployed.”

Huntoon, a Flint, Mich., native, said these exercises help the soldiers of the 25th Division to ensure their mission readiness.

“We're preparing to fight anytime, anyplace,” he said. “It's critical that we maintain and further enhance our capabilities – and Lightning Forge gives us the perfect opportunity to do just that. I'm not going to lie, it can be pretty challenging, especially because we must constantly readjust to whatever is happening, but staying motivated, staying focused on the mission helps you move forward.”

1st Lt. Jared Heslop, a scout platoon leader with Bravo Troop, said the training definitely provides tough and realistic training to help maintain the division's readiness, despite being as far away from the continental United States as they are.

“Despite being located away from the mainland, it is key that we maximize our readiness,” said Heslop, a Hollidaysburg, Pa., native. “I am grateful that we've gotten the chance to come out and train aboard MCTAB. It has certainly helped to make this a better training experience and we're learning a lot out here. There's no doubt in my mind that this has helped make me a better leader, it has made my soldiers better and they continue to gain experience each day.”

Maj. Val Moro, the ground force commander for 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd SBCT, 25th Infantry Div., said that Bellows provides a very complex facility to train and operate in.

“It challenges your ability to amass combat power at any one decisive point because there is so much ground to cover,” said Moro, a Lacey, Wash., native. “You really have to think through the geometry of the city itself, as well as take you and your enemies' weapons capabilities into consideration, which adds its fair share of strain on the timing and planning of the exercise.”

He said MCTAB is a great training area and he's always glad whenever the Army has the chance to train aboard the facility.

“I would like to thank everybody who has helped put this together and helped us get here, who helped provide us with a safe, rewarding mission,” Moro said. “I hope all of the soldiers out here see that all the skills they've learned and all the hard work they have put in really does pay off when they get to see it all come together during training exercises like this. I think that, at the end of the day, they can look at themselves in the mirror and think, ‘Today, I earned my pay. I love what I'm doing and I am ready to defend my country.'”

More photos available below

By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Harley Thomas
Marine Corps News
Copyright 2016

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