MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines and Sailors with Headquarters and Service company 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, took part in searchers and site exploitation training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 27-29, 2015.
The storied unit must be ready to deploy to any operating environment in the world to support a multitude of missions and operations. In order to be a ready and capable fighting force, these Marines must conduct a plethora of different training evolutions in order to be fully prepared for future contingencies.
1/5 and other infantry battalions must be able to operate abroad and effectively search and assess various environments for threats. Throughout this course, Marines learned the procedures to follow if a threat is detected. Calmly assessing the threat, gathering supporting evidence and then avoiding or neutralizing it are just a few of the many steps involved.
“This training goes back to attention to detail,” said Sgt. Damien Badger, the range safety officer with 1/5. “We get taught to look for the little things since boot camp, so this is kind of like that but on another level. The things they are teaching will help us be better at what we do as Marines, and that’s mission completion.”
The training spanned across a three days and was taught by members of the Marine Corps Engineer School. MCES serves as the service lead for Counter Improvised Explosive Device Defeat the Device and provides engineering experts in education, training and doctrine. The instructors guided them through various cases and exercises to help Marines grasp the concepts and skills.
“If a Marine isn’t trained in these skill sets, everything falls apart,” said Kevin Augustine, a unit instructor with the MCES. “The overarching goal of this training is to learn the techniques and things to look for and put it all together.”
On the first day, Marines were exposed to different tools to use while conducting searches, such as metal detectors, flashlights, digital cameras and robots. Marines were able to practice using the tools in order to learn how to effectively search an area.
During the second day of training, Marines were shown what potentially hazardous areas typically look like and were taught multiple steps to assess landscapes and camp sites, search for IEDs and any other signs of irregular activity. After searching the terrain, Marines and Sailors moved into the Military Operation in Urban Terrain (MOUT) town, where they learned to search through houses with role-players, adding to the realism of the training.
On the last day of training, Marines and Sailors conducted the practical application portion of the training were they searched suspicious areas and houses while interacting with role-players. The exercise required them to apply every technique acquired from the previous days and also to improvise when faced with new obstacles.
Although being assertive and thorough was emphasized during the instruction period, being tactful and respectful in searches was also stressed.
“I think the most important thing we learned was being able to interact with the locals properly,” Badgers said. “If we start treating them wrong in their own country, in their own area, we look bad and no one’s going to want to cooperate with us. Without cooperation, things start getting hard and we don’t need that, especially during a mission.”
This training is one of the many exercises which contribute to the versatility of 1/5, making them a valuable asset to the division. Marines and Sailors with the 1st Marine Division are frequently trained in all aspects of combat and are ready to receive the call to defend the nation.