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Training For The Modern Battlefield
by U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Rebekah Harasick
September 7, 2022

Divesting, integration and reorganization of our forces is a result of the efforts to address present and future adversaries from obscure environments to uncertain domains. What does this massive change look like, and what are some of the ways training is being executed to coincide with this?

Hide and Seek Exercise (HSX) is one such training that encompasses the multi-domain planes of kinetic and non-kinetic effects, where friendly forces and adversaries are pitted against one another, equipped with material for the anticipated, modern-world battle.

The exercise was comprised of a blue team and a red team; the blue team acting as the friendly element and the read team as lead adversary.

U.S. Marines assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and a CH-53E Super Stallion assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, conduct an external lift during Hide and Seek Exercise on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 27, 2022. Hide and Seek Exercise is a field exercise hosted by 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division that trains participants on signature management, communication, electronic warfare, cyberspace operations and intelligence collection, processing and dissemination in order to enable future operations in a multi-domain contested environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Eric Ramirez)
U.S. Marines assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and a CH-53E Super Stallion assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, conduct an external lift during Hide and Seek Exercise on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 27, 2022. Hide and Seek Exercise is a field exercise hosted by 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division that trains participants on signature management, communication, electronic warfare, cyberspace operations and intelligence collection, processing and dissemination in order to enable future operations in a multi-domain contested environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Eric Ramirez)

“This unique exercise offers one of the most realistic ways for units to train,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Aric Ramsey, the regimental communications officer with 10th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division. “We created a free play, force on force scenario involving a blue force operating fires, logistics, command and control, and a red force leveraging just about every information related capability available to collect, fuse, and attempt to target the blue forces using their signature.”

Ramsey said both sides employed equipment necessary to meet the needs of present and future warfare, facing friction across all domains and in uncertain training environments. The conduct of the exercise was shaped by Force Design 2030 concepts.

“We have been grappling with the Commandant's Planning Guidance, expeditionary advanced based operations (EABO), and the concept for stand-in forces for some time,” he said.

Stand-in-forces were curated among subordinate commands to prepare for immediate action to various threats. This hyper vigilance of preparation comes with concepts such as EABO, which establishes an operating base within a small timeframe, and oftentimes within an enemy’s weapon engagement zone.

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Stevens, a tactical imagery analyst with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, and a prior infantryman, explained from his perspective the strength of incorporating the idea of Force Design 2030.

“Exercises like this provides the opportunity to operate in this capacity, where you really see how the movements are conducted; there’s fidelity among the operations and fusion that exists between [different intelligence disciplines],” he said.

It became apparent to II MEF that an exercise on the East Coast would be beneficial, particularly one that would combine every information related capability, imitating a near-peer adversary that would target U.S. forces through their signatures. This exercise would satisfy the need to improve numerous tactics in order to serve as a SIF.

It did not take long before HSX had the attention of many units from within MEF, such as 2nd Marine Logistics Group and II MEF Information Group.

U.S. Marines with 2d Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, prepare to fire an M777 Howitzer during Exercise Hide and Seek on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 27, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo illustration by Lance Cpl. Ethan Robert Jones)
U.S. Marines with 2d Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, prepare to fire an M777 Howitzer during Exercise Hide and Seek on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 27, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo illustration by Lance Cpl. Ethan Robert Jones)

Ramsey went on to discuss the bigger picture with keeping training front and center.

“The end state is for Marines to understand every aspect in which they conduct their mission, particularly for a SIF,” he said. “They will see how attention to details contribute to camouflaging their position, planning their routes, receiving sustainment, and managing their communications to successfully operating within the weapons engagement zone.”

Ramsey explained that mistakes made during the exercise allowed Marines to identify solutions.

“The mistakes that are made and the lessons identified through them will save lives and contribute to mission accomplishment should these forces ever be called to operate against near peer adversaries with an advanced intelligence and fires complex.”

According to Ramsey, the HSX is invaluable for its ability to place Marines and Sailors in a training environment where there’s more freedom for those participating. With any exercise comes the responsibility of honing in on what needs improvement and what should be sustained.

Exercises such as HSX provide the units with the realistic training necessary to remain a combat-ready force that is capable to deploy at a moment’s notice.

The units that participated all benefited from the freedom that existed in the planning architecture which enabled them to complete their training objectives, learn from mistakes, and hone in on potential solutions for problem sets of the future fight.

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