Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Hayden Parker, rifleman, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and a native of Florence, Ariz., provides security for his fire team during an Urban Operations exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 9, 2014. The training area tested the Marines’ knowledge and skills on operations in austere conditions. The range portrayed how an urban battlefield may look in a combat environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Moore/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Moore

Geronimo Battalion seizes Urban Operations town

28 Jan 2014 | Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Moore 1st Marine Division

“Set,” yelled a fire team leader as he waited outside a doorway, rifle at the ready position. The Marine behind him grabbed his shoulder and gave him the command, “go.” The four-man team rushed into the building. The squad moved rapidly through the halls and collected a door. They burst into the room killed the enemy who shot at them moments earlier. The building was cleared and the squad moved to the next one.

Marines with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, trained for Urban Operations here, Jan. 9. The Marines practiced patrolling through a town, clearing buildings and breaching doors while their instructors posed as an enemy force inside the rooms.
The training area tested the Marines’ knowledge and skills on operations in austere conditions by providing an unpredictable layout that Marines normally experience in urban terrain. The rooms were filled with distracting elements such as holes in the walls, open ceilings and multiple doorways.
“These guys haven’t really messed with urban environments before,” said Cpl. Nicholas Abdalla, a squad leader with Alpha Co. “Coming out here is a whole new ball game for them. They are forced to take initiative and make their own decisions instead of following the leader.”

The training served more than one purpose. The Marines experienced a realistic feel of combat and gave small-unit leaders the chance to lead their new squad members through different scenarios.

The Marines need to be familiar with UO because, as the nation’s quick response force, they never know when or where they might be deployed, McDonnell said.

“It’s our mission to always be ready,” said 2nd Lt. Sean McDonnell, an Alpha Co. platoon commander. “We have no idea what might happen in the world so we have to train in a variety of different missions. Keeping the Marines in the mindset that they have to be ready at any time for when their nation needs them is crucial.”

The Marines conducted the training above the instructors’ expectations, said Abdalla, a native of Stevensville, Md. They took the initiative to accomplish difficult tasks on their own. The new members of the squad improved on their training throughout the day and look forward to their next opportunity to conduct a UO exercise.

“They love it out here,” said McDonnell, a native of Annapolis, Md. “It’s a lot of fun for these guys to come out here and kick in doors and clear buildings. These facilities are awesome for supporting this training.”

The training helped the Marines prepare for their upcoming deployment to Australia in April where they will be a part of the I Marine Air-Ground Task Force. They will continue to hone their UO abilities to remain a premier force in readiness.

1st Marine Division