Photo Information

Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, fire mortars in support of adjacent rifleman units aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 29, 2014. The section of mortars was part of a five-day live-fire range to test the unit's capabilities to conduct a squad-sized attack on simulated enemy positions.

Photo by Lance Cpl. William Perkins

From Brush to Rush

1 Aug 2014 | Lance Cpl. William Perkins 1st Marine Division

After four days of dragging their boots across the mountains of Camp Pendleton, the Marines of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment reached the conclusion of their hike only to be greeted with yet another challenge. Once the infantrymen’s packs hit the ground, the Marines began their planning for a simulated live-fire assault on Range 223B.

1st Lt. Paul Hollwedel, the executive officer for Company L, 3/1, said that what the Marines had done so far was no easy task.

“They just came out of hiking and patrol operations so [the Marines] are tired, physically and mentally,” explained Hollwedel. 

Hollwedel also said that the difficult conditions they wanted their Marines to endure was to ready them for situations they may encounter in a deployed environment.

 “When it comes down to making a decision on the range, they’ll be fatigued and uncomfortable,” said Hollwedel. “This gives the Marines a more realistic look at their own abilities and limits as a unit.”

When each individual infantryman can learn and use their skills efficiently, it converts into the big picture and allows the squad to function professionally, said Hollwedel.

Range 223B required the Marines to operate as a squad-sized element to assault through an enemy position. The Marines were assessed on their ability to perform a wire breach and rush a simulated enemy position while receiving machine gun and mortar support. After assaulting through the enemy bunker, the Marines set up a perimeter and defended their position from notional infantry and tank units with rockets and small arms fire.

“Being an infantryman requires basic skills,” said Sgt. Josh Germond, a platoon sergeant with Company L. “It’s being proficient at those skills that make us so good.”

When talking about the junior Marines under his command, Germond said, “They know the skills they have been taught; now they have to apply that knowledge on these live ranges to gain the experience to become an effective squad.”

“This range is really well developed”, said Germond. “It has really good terrain so these Marines can see how to effectively use cover and concealment. It also doesn’t divide our squad to where we can’t communicate as effectively and gives the Marines a view of the big picture to see how everything flows.”

Infantry units require constant training to stay current and proficient to ever changing and irregular combat tactics. Training of this caliber keeps infantry Marines performing at their fullest potential.

“This exercise helps set a baseline for the Marines”, said Hollwedel. “It lets them know where they’re at, where they need to be and how they’re going to get there.”

1st Marine Division