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Regimental reserve force trains for on-call missions

30 Mar 2004 | Lance Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.

Even America's 9-1-1 force needs someone to call in an emergency.

Bring on Regimental Combat Team 7's reserve.  It's a platoon dedicated to answering the "what-if" questions.  They are the answer against incoming mortars, rockets and small-arms fire directed at the RCT-7 headquarters.

"The reserve is primarily here to handle the small attacks," said 2nd Lt. Daniel F. O'Brien, platoon commander for the regiment's reserve force.  "This allows the battalions to concentrate on the larger issues."

The team is primarily made up 3rd Platoon, Company L from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.  The reserve force also includes several attachments from other units. 

An average day for the reserve force includes reaction drills - held at least twice a day - and includes two to three classes in between those drills.  The team is split into two separate units, enabling one unit an opportunity to rest and train while the other one is always on the "wire" ready to defeat threats.

"We train day and night and do two to four classes a day," said Lance Cpl. Derek T. Hillbert, a radio operator with the reserve force.  "The training is great. It allows everybody the chance to know and practice their role."

Training ranges from language classes to close-quarters combat drills and maneuvers.

"We train on everything," said Berry, of Round Rock, Texas.  "Doing all of this 10 or 20 times gives us a real feel for it all."

The reserve's outdoor training involves nearly everything they might be tasked to perform, according to O'Brien.  The team focuses training on vehicle checkpoints, blocking techniques and even helicopter-borne operations to stop and apprehend suspected enemies.

Acting as a quick-reaction force is new to many of the Marines here.  That's a big reason they constantly train when not out on actual missions.

"The training is very important," O'Brien said.  "The decisions these Marines make will come under stressful circumstances.  It's imperative they're able to make the right decisions and do it in a timely manner."

All the Marines in the reserve force share a common view of the training.  For them, it's a boost in confidence and a verification of their capabilities. 

"The training isn't that hard," Berry said.  "There isn't anything out here we can't handle.  We do this because we know we have to in order to survive."